On September 23, 2015, Kean University agreed to pay $75,000 to African-American woman in her early 60’s who alleged that her employment was terminated because of “her race, and/or age and/or gender.”

In her suit, Sherrell S. Holderman, a 30-year employee of Kean University, claimed that she was laid off from her position of Director of the PASSPORT Program (this program services “a large percentage of academically under prepared athletes, as well as non-athletes) on February 28, 2011 despite having had more seniority than many others in her department.  She claimed that eleven other employees were laid off at the same time as her: ten were women, six were African-American, and of the six African-American employees who were laid-off, four were women.  She noted that two who were laid off were Hispanics and at least nine were over forty years of age.  She alleged that “not a single white male was among the 12 individuals laid-off.”

The case is captioned Holderman v. Kean University and Dawood Y. Farahi, Federal Case No. 2:12-cv-03120 and Holderman’s attorneys were John T. Herbert and Kathy R. Perry of Englewood.  The complaint and settlement agreement are on-line here.

None of Holderman’s allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $75,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Kean or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Kean or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Holderman $75,000 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants’ decision to settle was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and the defendants wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases settle before trial–it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened.

Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project. Please send all comments to [email protected]