Lack of Evidence Dismisses Discrimination Charges
By Aaron Youngblood Staff Writer
The lawsuit between former Benedictine University Springfield employee Dr. Laine Tadlock and Benedictine University has been settled, according to a BenU press release. Tadlock sought legal counsel to sue the University on grounds of discrimination after, according to her, her employment was terminated due to her sexual orientation.
However, in September of this year, the Illinois Department of Human Rights found that there was not sufficient evidence to continue a lawsuit and the charges against the University were dropped.
“We have said from day one that Dr. Tadlock was neither fired nor discriminated against. She resigned and that is basically what the [Illinois Department of Human Rights] maintained,” said President of Benedictine University, Dr. William Carroll.
Tadlock is displeased with the Illinois Department of Human Rights decision to dismiss the charges. “We are appealing on the grounds that several facts were misunderstood,” said Tadlock.
Carroll welcomes Tadlock’s appeal. “Dr. Tadlock has the legal right to appeal. However, the University’s position will not change. We won round one, we’ll win round two.”
In July 2010, Tadlock wed her partner, Kae Helstrom, in a civil ceremony in Iowa. Tadlock published a wedding announcement in the Springfield State Journal-Register that stated she was an employee of Benedictine University. This sparked concern from the University because Tadlock’s actions are said to have failed to uphold Catholic traditions and values.
Tadlock had made her sexual orientation known to all her superiors and co-workers before the announcement. “I never hid my sexual orientation. During the hiring process, I made it known I was lesbian and was becoming more politically active,” said Tadlock. “When I told my immediate superior that I would need time off to get married, all he said was ‘Congratulations’.”
“Dr. Tadlock was not fired. She was offered another position yet declined to show up to work,” Carroll explained.
According to Carroll, after being placed on administrative leave, Tadlock was offered a new lateral position as Director of Assessment. Yet she refused to accept the new position and did not show up to work, because she preferred her previous position as Director of Education.
“In this new position I would not be able to interact with students and faculty, which is one of the most important aspect of my job,” said Tadlock.
Carroll saw the episode as extremely unfortunate. “The events that took place are very sad. People were very upset when they thought we discriminated against her.”
Tadlock believes she was terminated for making the announcement public and claims she was unaware of all Catholic traditions and values. “I am not Catholic, so how would I know what the protocol is…No one informed me of the tenants of the Catholic faith,” said Tadlock.
In a letter to the community released in November of last year, Carroll stated that he reminds all potential employees during the interview process of the guidelines one must follow to work for Benedictine.
The publicity from the incident has generated some negative views against the University. “I have gotten 1500 hate emails,” said Carroll. “The whole position of the University is we welcome everybody. We have no bias against anyone.”
Student’s opinions on whether the University discriminated against Tadlock vary.
“Not showing up for work is saying you quit,” said Karyn Tupek, an education major. “No call/no show has always been grounds for dismissal. I would hope the school isn’t being discriminatory because I don’t believe that is like Benedictine.”
“We have a club, GLOW (Gay, Lesbian, or Whatever) and when we get shirts made the Benedictine logo is on there. It is no different than Tadlock putting that she was lesbian in the newspaper with the Benedictine name,” said Antanyse Allen.
Tadlock said she is disappointed in the stream of events that took place. “I feel bad for the students. I view higher education as a way to learn different cultures and ways of life.”