A jury on Friday awarded tenured African-American professor Richard L. Jackson $300,000 plus back pay, in his discrimination lawsuit against Metropolitan State College. I happened to be sitting in federal court Friday waiting for my case to be called, when Judge Nottingham announced a civil jury in a case he was trying had just returned with a verdict. It was the jury in the Jackson case. The parties assembled, the Government lawyers on one side, and civil rights attorney David Lane with his client on the other. The jury filed in, and after assuring the Judge that the verdict forms were correct, he read the verdict. The first claim had to do with racism, and the Government won. There was no visible reaction from the defense side. Then the judge read the second verdict which had to do with creating a hostile work environment and retaliation, and the jury found for Mr. Jackson and awarded him $300,000. His shoulders started to shake and he started to cry — tears of gratitude. Lane put his arm around him. It was a very moving moment for everyone in the courtroom. Sometimes the little guy wins. Mr. Jackson took on the system, and he won. The next claim had to do with back pay, and Lane and the Government said they would work that part out between themselves. Employment discrimination claims take years to get through the system. There are a lot of technical hurdles. It takes a lot of perserverence on the part of the employee and his or her lawyer just to make to trial. Sometimes, like Friday, it pays off. With the back pay, Jackson could receive up to $700,000.
Jackson cites years of discrimination against him and other black professors. Jackson says he was the lowest paid tenured professor at Metro State but says this verdict is for the next generation of teachers. “It’s definately worth it when I see these new, young African American PhD’s with all their energy,” said Jackson, “I don’t want them to go through that. So, I would say yes, It’s been worth it.”