EMU to pay $75,000 to counseling student Julea Ward who refused to counsel gay client
Eastern Michigan University announced this afternoon it has settled a lawsuit filed by a former student who was dismissed from the master’s degree counseling program after she refused to counsel a gay client because of her religious beliefs. “EMU has made the decision that is in the best interest of its students and the taxpayers of the state of Michigan to resolve the litigation rather than continue to spend money on a costly trial,” said Walter Kraft, EMU’s vice president for communications, in a written statement. “The matter has been resolved in the amount of $75,000. The university’s insurance company, M.U.S.I.C. (Michigan Universities Self-Insurance Corporation), will pay the cost of the settlement.” The lawsuit was filed in April 2009 by the Alliance Defense Fund on behalf of Julea Ward, a student in the university’s Graduate School Counseling Program, where she was training to become a K-12 school counselor. Ward said the university dismissed her from the program because of her religious beliefs after she declined to counsel a gay client, instead referring the client to another counselor. The university said she was dismissed for not following the American Counseling Association's code of ethics.