Kansas University officials violated policy by firing the former director of the Spencer Museum of Art after a prescribed date, according to a lawsuit filed in Douglas County District Court.
The lawsuit, filed by former Spencer director Andrea Norris, alleges she was fired in the middle of a fiscal year and was informed of the decision after the deadline for administration to notify staff that they wouldn't be employed past the end of the year.
Norris was fired March 2, 2004. She had been director at the museum since February 1988.
"She was unfairly denied the benefits of the university's policy," said Sarah A. Brown, lead attorney for Norris. "It all hinges on the timing of it all."
KU officials said they had not been made aware of the lawsuit yet and could not comment on the allegations.
The suit names both KU and Provost David Shulenburger as defendants. Shulenburger was Norris' direct supervisor during her time at KU.
According to the lawsuit, Shulenburger asked Norris to resign her position on Feb. 4, 2004, after a five-year review of Norris' performance as head of the museum. She was asked to leave by June of that year.
Norris responded to Shulenburger's request by offering alternatives to her firing. She also claimed that much of the performance review was incorrect and shouldn't be counted against her.
Instead, the lawsuit claims, Shulenburger fired her outright, giving her three days to clear out her desk and having her office's computer confiscated the day after her March 2 firing.
"She was terminated without any warning," Brown said. "It's not that they couldn't fire her, it was just the manner they did it."
The lawsuit alleges Shulenburger and KU violated employment policy by firing her after a Jan. 17 deadline that year. Norris also claims she never had the opportunity to appeal her firing, another requirement under the policy.
The suit also alleges a KU personnel officer told Norris she had no recourse or action even though university policy described a specific appeals process.
Norris is asking for $112,000 - approximately a year's salary - in addition to interest on that amount and a published apology from Shulenburger.
Norris was not in town and did not return phone calls seeking comment.