People often assume that only those in the lower or middle rungs of a business or organization suffer discrimination, harassment and unfair treatment. However, even executives and people in jobs that require considerable education and skills can find themselves the victims of unfair and even illegal employment practices. Sometimes, no matter how accomplished or well-performing an employee is, all that some others can see is their gender, race, religion, nationality or other characteristics. That can make them the target of actions that can compromise their ability to do their job and limit their career and salary opportunities.

The former CFO was terminated after filing a salary complaint

Here in Kentucky, we’ve just seen a former University of Kentucky (UK) official awarded $1.75 million for wrongful termination. The man had been the chief financial officer (CFO) of UK HealthCare and Senior VP for Health Affairs. The former CFO, who is from Guatemala, worked for the university for eight years. During that time, he received numerous promotions. Eventually, he was earning nearly $480,000 a year. However, he said that his pay was lower than appropriate for his position — and lower than U.S.-born officials at the university. When he filed a complaint about his salary, he was terminated.

University reportedly offered him a $50,000 settlement

When he took legal action, his attorney says that UK offered to settle the case for just $50,000. The man, who now is at the University of Massachusetts, took his case to court and prevailed this month. It took less than an hour of deliberation after a three-day trial for a jury to decide to award him $1.75 million. A UK spokesperson responded by saying, “We respectfully disagree with the decision reached yesterday, but will need time to further review before making any substantive comment.” It can be easy to buy into excuses from an employer for why you are not being paid fairly. It can also be easy to be persuaded that you’re being paranoid for believing that the unfair treatment you’re receiving is because of who you are. That’s why if you believe that you’ve been wronged by an employer, it’s wise to seek legal guidance to determine whether you have a case.