WSU settles for $50,000 with former professor candidate who sued for pregnancy discrimination 

Wichita State has reached a $50,000 settlement with the Ohio women’s studies professor who accused the university of retracting a job offer last year after she disclosed that she was pregnant.

A visiting assistant professor at Oberlin College, Evangeline Heiliger alleged in a December lawsuit that she inquired about on-campus childcare options in a phone call after being offered an assistant professorship. The next day, she was informed via email that she was no longer in consideration for the job.

Provost Rick Muma signed the settlement agreement last month on behalf of WSU. The agreement prohibits Heiliger from seeking any future employment at WSU.

“You permanently, unequivocally, and unconditionally waive any rights you may now have, may have had in the past, or may have in the future to obtain or seek employment with [the] University,” the agreement states. 

WSU General Counsel David Moses said after the news of the lawsuit broke that an internal university investigation found no wrongdoing. The agreement states that the settlement is in no way an admission of improper behavior.

“The University does not admit, and expressly denies, any wrongdoing or liability,” the agreement reads.

Heiliger originally sued WSU for more than $75,000. Court records show that the two parties agreed to settle the lawsuit after a seven-hour mediation session in May.

Heiliger and her heirs — presumably including any children she may have — are not entitled to sue the university again for any reason, per the agreement.

“You, for yourself and for each of your heirs . . . hereby fully release, acquit, and forever discharge the University . . . of and from any and all claims, liabilities, causes of action, damages, costs, attorneys’ fees, expenses, and compensation whatsoever . . .,” it reads.

Moses declined to comment on the settlement, telling The Sunflower that the matter is resolved.

WSU maintains it is taking steps to hire more women to faculty positions.

Earlier this month, the university announced an 18-month project to improve the university’s hiring and retention of women and minority faculty. The project, funded by a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, has a focus on STEM fields.