The Christian school Liberty University was sued last Friday for $8M by its former official for violating his rights
According to Religion News Service, former Liberty University Management Efficiencies and Diversity Executive Vice President Kelvin Edwards filed the lawsuit at the Western District of Virginia after he was fired from his job last October 2020.
The lawsuit was allegedly due to a breach in contract since Edwards was told during hiring that the post will be for 10 years yet he only stayed in it for months since he was hired during summer that year. He alleges that the university's Acting President Jerry Prevo fired him because he does not value diversity nor fully understand the job.
Edwards pointed out in the lawsuit that he left his previous job in Texas as a car dealer to take that post, which also required his wife to leave a teaching job and their relocation. His main reason for accepting the post when it was offered him was his close relations to the University's founder, the late Dr. Jerry Falwell who he treated as his father, and his son who was his boardmate.
"I warmly refer to Liberty's founder, the late Dr. Jerry Falwell, Sr., as my 'father' not only because of the intimate relationship and mentorship between us, but also because current President Jerry Falwell and I formed a fast and easy brotherhood as college dorm mates," Edwards revealed in an August 4, 2020 press release of the school.
"My wife, Tiawna, and I are excited to continue our relationship with Liberty University and to uphold the charge of building Champions for Christ," he added.
The job's financial gains was secondary reason. Edwards, who was the University's former football star before he became a New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys player, was offered a salary of $275,000. This was exclusive of a monthly car allowance of $1,500, a new home, and scholarships for him and his family in exchange of ensuring the University is kept "free from unbiblical and unlawful discrimination" through his Management Efficiencies and Diversity role.
Religion News Service said the press release also highlighted that Edwards was hired along with Turner Gill, thr University's football coach because of their "ongoing efforts in diversity."
However, Prevo came in as acting president three weeks after Edwards accepted the post since Jerry Falwell Jr. resigned. It didn't take long for Edwards to see Prevo's confusion with his role in the University.
"It became clear that Prevo did not believe in diversity efforts based at Liberty. In fact, during that same time frame, Mr. Edwards heard Prevo comment there were 'too many people' in diversity and inclusion," the lawsuit said.
On the other hand, WFXR News reported that Liberty University denied Edwards' allegations and pointed out their school's efforts on diversity through a statement released on Monday.
"Liberty University rejects the claims of Kelvin Edwards and will prove them false through the legal process. The University and its president are fully committed to racial and ethnic inclusion and diversity throughout Liberty, including on its faculty, in its student body and staff, and on its executive team," the statement said.
The University explained that Prevo made the decision to remove Edwards from his post after evaluating the executive team. His findings found Edward's hiring as "among his predecessor's mistakes" and that the assignment of Edward's to a new role was "unfruitful" because of qualifications.
"Liberty offered to compensate him for returning to Texas, the inconvenience of the false start, and the transition time. Mr. Edwards refused. He demanded five years' salary with no work, which Liberty simply cannot pay under governing law," the statement continued.
In addition, the University highlighted the malicious intent of Edward's lawyers to reframe their decision to fire him "as racially motivated discrimination" due to a non-commitment to diversity as "completely false."