Just weeks after a Jessamine County jury ruled in favor of Asbury University, former AU professor John Charalambakis filed a motion for a new trial, according to court documents dated Dec. 9.
A jury trial was held Nov. 14-18, and according to court records, the jury found “Asbury had sufficient cause to terminate (Charalambakis)” from his tenured faculty position. The jury’s verdict was unanimous, according to court records.
Charalambakis, an economics professor at the college for 19 years, filed a lawsuit against Asbury University accusing the school’s head administrators of discrimination, harassment, creating a hostile work environment and breach of contract, according to court documents.
On Sept. 27, 2010, Charalambakis filed an amended complaint with the Jessamine County Circuit Court naming Provost Jon S. Kuluga, President Sandra Gray, trustee C.E. Crouse, Don Zent and Gregory Swanson as defendants.
Charalambakis, who is of Greek descent, received “unfavorable comments about his national origin and his accent” from Kulaga and Gray with “full knowledge” of Crouse, according to the claim. It also alleges that Kulaga, Gray, Crouse and Swanson made “false and misleading statements” about the professor to business consultants, the student body and faculty members at the university.
In his request for a new trial, Charalambakis claims “irregularity in the proceedings of the court, jury or prevailing party, or an order of the court, or abuse of discretion, by which he was prevented from having a fair trial; misconduct of the jury, of the prevailing party or of his attorney; and errors of law occurring at the trial and objected to by the party under the provisions of these rules.”
Charalambakis alleges “The Court completely discounted examples of national-origin discrimination that occurred more than one year before Jan. 13, 2010, on which day (Charalambakis) signed the charge with the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights.”
In an e-mail, Asbury spokesman Brad Johnson said the school will continue to pray for all parties involved.
“We regret the plaintiff’s decision to pursue litigation, and we will continue to pray for all involved,” he said.
None of the employees listed in the lawsuit have been placed on leave, Johnson said in October 2010.
According to the lawsuit, Charalambakis was harassed because he questioned the “university’s practice of hiring qualified professors and its failure to comply with required academic standards.”
In November 2009, Charalambakis filed a complaint with the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights alleging discrimination based on his nationality. About three weeks later, the university placed the tenured professor on probation, according to the complaint. Kulaga, Gray and Crouse instructed Charalambakis to withdraw his complaint to the KCHR or it would violate the terms of his probation, the complaint states.
In February 2010, Charalambakis modified his complaint by adding retaliation.
The professor complied with the terms of his probation and made an agreement with the university that caused Charalambakis to terminate relationships with outside business clients and in turn suffer financial damages, according to the lawsuit.
As a result of Charalambakis’ complaint with KCHR, his contract with Asbury was not renewed, making his last day of employment June 30, according to documents.
He appealed the decision but he was “denied a fair review of his appeal of termination,” the complaint states.
The suit alleges the conduct of Kulaga, Gray, Zent, Crouse and Swanson was “retaliatory” and as a result Charalambakis suffered “economic harm” and “embarrassment.”
In his lawsuit, Charalambakis sought compensatory and punitive damages.
Charalambakis’ request for a new trial will be heard by Jessamine Circuit Judge Hunter Daugherty on Wednesday, Dec. 21, at 9 a.m.