WVWC settles suit for $250,000

Ex-vice president Julie Keehner had sued the college for age, gender discrimination

BUCKHANNON — West Virginia Wesleyan College has settled a lawsuit with its former vice president of student development for $250,000. The agreement with Julie Keehner was reached in early December, according to court records.

Keehner first filed the suit in October 2016, following her termination in May 2016.

In the suit, Keehner had alleged the college violated the West Virginia Human Rights Act by compensating male employees in a senior administrative role at the college at a higher rate, despite her having more experience. The suit also alleged that the college terminated Keehner in whole or in part based upon her age. She was 60 at the time.

First hired in 2005 as the vice president for student development, Keehner became the vice president of both student development and enrollment management in 2006.

Then, in 2013, the roles were again separated when the college hired a separate vice president of enrollment. Keehner retained the student development position until she was terminated in 2016.

The suit was scheduled to go to trial in February, but college offered the $250,000 settlement in later November “to resolve any and all claims which have  been, or which might have been, asserted in this action,” according to a copy of the offer.   

The college issued a statement in which it denied any wrongdoing but moved forward with the settlement to focus on college operations.

“In response to questions regarding the resolution of the litigation between Julie Keehner and West Virginia Wesleyan College, it is correct that the matter has been resolved,” the statement reads. “Wesleyan strongly asserts that it did not act wrongfully or unlawfully in any manner related to the termination of Ms. Keehner’s employment. The cost of the settlement was paid entirely through insurance coverage and not through the financial resources of Wesleyan. By resolving this matter, the administration of West Virginia Wesleyan can now do what it should be and wishes to be doing, which is successfully operating the college in a manner that fully supports and assists its constituents, including its valued students.”

Keehner was represented by attorneys Matthew Hansberry of Hansberry Law Office and Rodney A. Smith from Bailess Smith.

Hansberry did not return a call for comment by press time.

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