Dismissal of K-State suit upheld

By The Mercury

An appeals court this week sided with Kansas State University by affirming the dismissal of a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by a former assistant professor.

The United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit on Thursday ruled the earlier dismissal of Grace Hwang’s lawsuit will stand.

In her lawsuit, Hwang claimed that the university violated the Rehabilitation Act by discriminating against her based on disability by denying her more than six months of sick leave.

She also alleged she was unlawfully retaliated against during unsuccessful applications for two other jobs after she lost her teaching job.

“There was no substance to these claims against the university, and the court recognized that,” Kansas State associate general counsel Peter Paukstelis stated Friday in a press release.

Before Hwang’s employment period began, she learned she had cancer and needed treatment. Hwang approached the university, which gave her a six-month paid leave of absence, according to the appeals court’s opinion document.

As that period concluded, Hwang’s doctor advised her to seek more time off. The university refused, citing its policy.

Kansas State arranged for Hwang to receive long-term disability benefits, but she alleged that effectively terminated her employment.

However, the appeals court determined that the university accommodated her circumstances appropriately.

The court ruled there is nothing discriminatory with the university’s leave policy and that no facts were presented to support Hwang’s retaliation claims.

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