Former Employee Alleges that He was the Victim of Employment Discrimination and Copyright Infringement
On February 28, 2022, a former employee brought suit in federal court against the Corporation of Western Governors University (WGU) alleging employment discrimination, copyright infringement, and related causes of action.
The complaint claims that the plaintiff, who is a Catholic of Vietnamese descent, was the victim of racial and religious discrimination that allegedly led to his ultimate termination. The plaintiff asserts that he was "subjected to egregious, numerous, and concentrated acts of unlawful harassment, discrimination, and retaliation based on race and religion" during his employment with WGU. The complaint recounts a number of episodes in which WGU's Senior Vice President allegedly made offensive comments to the plaintiff at work such as stating that WGU would not discuss violence against Asians in their discussions about diversity and remarking to the plaintiff that eating bats should be illegal. The plaintiff also asserts that he was "ignored and excluded from various employment-related activities" because he, unlike a majority of his co-workers, was not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Additionally, the plaintiff claims that WGU misappropriated the plaintiff's intellectual property by continuing to develop and use the Global Employment Ready Education (GERE) program. According to the complaint, GERE is "designed to bridge the gap between education and employment" and was developed by plaintiff prior to his employment with WGU and refined by the plaintiff while at WGU. The plaintiff also contends that he was promised the potential for significant equity opportunities and the possibility of becoming CEO/GM of WGU when he accepted the position but was ultimately "set . . . up to fail" by a lack of investment from WGU. The plaintiff insists that these representations were what prompted him to bring GERE with him to WGU. Following the plaintiff's termination, the plaintiff alleges that WGU "continues to retain and develop GERE without Plaintiff's permission" and now refers to the project as "ReadyTrack."
WGU has yet to file an answer in response to the plaintiff's complaint, so we have yet to hear their side of the story. On April 13, 2022, the court granted a Joint Motion to Stay for the parties to pursue settlement. As of yet, no settlement has been reported. The case is Nguyen v. Corporation of Western Governors University, docket number 2:22-cv-00138-JNP-CMR filed in the United States District Court for the District of Utah. We will be sure to provide updates on any future developments in the case.