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  • Writer's pictureSam Orlando

Civil Rights at Stake: JMU Faces Federal Lawsuit for Racial Discrimination Filed by Former Employee

Written by: Sam Orlando

In a landmark case that underscores the challenges of workplace equality, Darla V. Edwards has brought a lawsuit against James Madison University (JMU) to the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia. This significant legal move alleges serious racial discrimination and retaliation by the university against Edwards, one of its former employees.

The Crux of the Controversy

In her lawsuit, Edwards, a 50-year-old Black woman, claims JMU violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She is seeking comprehensive redress, including reinstatement, back pay, compensatory damages, and legal costs, shining a spotlight on the practices within JMU's administration.

Edwards alleges that JMU discriminated against her because she is an African-American female, and that the University created a hostile working environment for her and other minorities.

Legal Grounds and Context

Filed under case number 5:23-cv-00074, the lawsuit falls within the purview of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia. Edwards asserts that she has complied with all procedural requirements for this lawsuit, setting the stage for a pivotal legal battle.

Edwards' Journey at JMU

Starting in August 2018, Edwards' role at JMU was pivotal, especially in securing significant funding for the Virginia Ed Strategies (VES) program. Despite her experience and contributions, she alleges facing a discriminatory and hostile work environment.

Accusations of Racial Inequity

The lawsuit outlines instances where Edwards perceives racial discrimination, notably in the promotion of a less-qualified white colleague over her. Her subsequent complaints and the conflict-of-interest allegations with her business, Successful Innovations, reportedly led to exclusion from a board meeting and administrative leave.

Dismissal Amidst Discrimination Claims

Edwards' allegations extend to JMU’s Office of Equal Opportunity, which, according to her, failed to investigate her claims adequately. This, she argues, culminated in her termination in February 2023, suggesting retaliatory motives.

Demanding Justice and Accountability

In seeking relief, Edwards' lawsuit not only asks for compensation and reinstatement but also emphasizes the need for institutional accountability at JMU. This case is set to be a bellwether for workplace discrimination and equality within educational institutions.

Breaking Through News reached out to JMU leadership on Monday, but by press time we have not heard from JMU related to these shocking allegations. If and when JMU responds, we will update this story.

The outcome of Edwards' lawsuit against JMU will be closely monitored, as it represents a critical moment in the ongoing struggle for workplace fairness and civil rights. Stay with us for more updates on this important story.

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