Norfolk State College has been charged with false dismissal and discrimination allegations

Norfolk State University was recently named in a lawsuit filed by a former employee of wrongful termination and age discrimination allegations.

Mona Adkins-Easley, the interim human resources director for the city of Richmond, recently filed a lawsuit against Norfolk State University (NSU) on allegations of age and gender discrimination. The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on November 12th. Adkins-Easley previously served as Associate Vice President, Human Resources at NSU.

Adkins-Easley joined the City of Richmond in October 2019 after she claimed the Norfolk State “failed to renew her contract and forced her to retire early”. The lawsuit argues that the school violated discrimination laws in the process. According to the lawsuit, the university “has violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on race, color, religion, gender and national origin. “In addition, Adkins-Easley claims that” The State of Norfolk has violated the 1967 Employment Age Discrimination Act, which protects applicants and workers 40 years or older from age-related discrimination. “

Discrimination graphic; Image courtesy of Kalhh via Pixabay,

What exactly happened? According to the lawsuit, Adkins-Easley entered the role of vice president of human resources on September 3, 2014, after having worked for the school for eight months. During this time she “performed her work in accordance with the legitimate job expectations of the university and in accordance with her job description”. Then, from February 1 to March 31, 2017, she took FMLA to recover from cancer surgery.

According to the lawsuit, she received an email while on vacation from a “younger male employee who worked under her name, Sylvester Watkins.” In that email, Watkins said he had “resigned to take on another government position … and made it clear to Ms. Adkins-Easley that he was unhappy that she had not held him responsible for the human resources office while on vacation.”

On January 13, 2018, Adkins-Easley said goodbye to a car accident again. When she returned around February 15, she found that “she had been removed from her position in the Executive Cabinet, a leadership group at the university.” In addition, “her title was changed to human resources manager and she had three options including resigning, retiring or accepting a position for lower wages,” the lawsuit said.

Then, on March 28, 2018, then-Interim President Melvin Stith Sr. sent her a letter stating that her employment would end on September 30, 2018. As a result, the lawsuit argues: “Ms. Adkins-Easley was not given a credible explanation as to why her contract was not renewed despite efforts to obtain this information. In addition, she was “the only cabinet member at the non-vice-presidential level to be removed from the executive cabinet, while male cabinet members who were not vice-presidents kept their jobs.”

To add insult to injury, it was found that Watkins had replaced it. When she found this out, she said Watkins “was not qualified for the position and worked to undermine it to get the job.”

As a result of the treatment, Adkins-Easley filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on May 28, 2018. On August 22, 2020, she received a lawsuit. In the complaint, it stated that if the university “intends to terminate its contract, school officials must comply with the school’s administration and professional faculty manual and consult the relevant vice-president, dean or department head”. It goes on to say:

“It is not clear that (Norfolk State) was following this process as it is equally unclear that Dr. Leroy Hamilton, former Vice President, was consulted on this decision.”

Adkins-Easley is currently filing for a trial. If the court is on her side, she will request “reimbursement, advance payment or loss of wages and benefits and wage difference since September 2018”.


Ex-Norfolk State University’s HR director files a discrimination lawsuit 4 years after the previous HR director’s lawsuit

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

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