Thursday, February 2, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

MTSU President Didn’t Retaliate, Court Rules

NASHVILLE (CN) - The Tennessee Supreme Court dismissed a retaliation claim against the president of Middle Tennessee State University,whose administrative assistant accused him of demoting her for filing a sexual harassment complaint against him.

The assistant filed a lawsuit in 2003, claiming Sidney McPhee used their weekend golf outings as an opportunity to touch, rub and try to kiss her. She said he asked her intimate questions, encourage her to talk about sex, and made her come to work on weekends, when he would play music and dance with her in his office.

The plaintiff said she was reluctant to report his behavior because of his powerful position at the university, but she finally came forward under the assurance that her identity would remain anonymous. She re-filed her complaint after McPhee and other university officials released press statements that allegedly stripped the complainant of her anonymity. She also objected to their efforts to transfer her to another department.

The court found that the state exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct the alleged sexual harassment, and that the plaintiff "unreasonably failed to take advantage of the preventive and corrective measures." See ruling.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.