Professor Sues Liberty University Over Wrongful Termination
James Jones, who was an associate professor of computer science at Liberty University from 2009 to 2017, alleges that he was terminated after disclosing information about his disability to school officials.
After revealing to the university that he had autism during the summer of 2015, dean David Donahoo and Jerry Westfall met with Jones to discuss his student evaluations. Within this meeting, Jones requested accommodations for his disability on the basis that his autism made it difficult to receive high scores because of how it affected his social skills.
The suit claims that the officials told Jones that he should not have become a college professor if he were autistic in response to his request.
Months later, in March 2017, the school terminated Jones for underperforming. The lawsuit, however, claims that his performance was solid according to a field achievement test.
Since the lawsuit was filed during the week of Feb. 11, the university has denied the allegations and has said that it will vigorously defend itself in the court.
“Liberty University typically does not comment on personnel matters. However, Dr. James Jones has made serious claims in a public court filing that require the University to publicly respond. Liberty University denies the allegations in Dr. Jones’ lawsuit and intends to present a vigorous defense,” reads a statement sent to Virginia First.
“Liberty has a well-established record of accommodating employees with disabilities, often going beyond what the law requires. In this case, however, not only did Dr. Jones ask Liberty to alter its basic standards for teaching effectiveness (something the law does not require), but he persistently failed to remedy a number of his documented performance problems.”
According to Jones’ lawyer, Timothy Coffield, Jones is currently seeking his job back.
“The Christian values of that school really mean a great deal to him,” Coffield told Virginia First. “This was really an important part of his life.”
Last year, the Arizona State University received a $100,000 gift from Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation (DJFF) to establish a new endowment fund for researchers studying issues concerning adults with autism.