Case name: Farmer v. Troy University, No. 5:17‐CV‐70 (E.D. N.C. 08/21/17).Ruling: The U.S. District Court, Eastern District of North Carolina dismissed a suit against Troy University.What it means: Title IX protects an employee from reporting perceived misconduct only when that employee reasonably believed he was reporting activities prohibited by the act.Summary: Sharrell Farmer was employed by Troy University as a recruiter in its Fayetteville office. In May 2015, he complained to human resources that the local manager and her assistant had discussed “penis sizes of black and white men” with a student, and then tauntingly suggested that the student exhibit his penis.According to Farmer, word of his report apparently got out because unnamed persons subsequently engaged in retaliation by: (1) disciplining him with a written warning, (2) suspending him, (3) changing his schedule to be less favorable than that of other employees who had not filed discrimination allegations, and (4) firing him a few months later.Farmer filed a suit claiming retaliation in violation of Title IX, and the university filed a motion to dismiss.The district judge explained that an employee was protected by Title IX only if he reported activity that he reasonably believed was prohibited by that act. The judge acknowledged that the remarks reported by Farmer were offensive and inappropriate, but ruled that they were not sufficiently physically threatening or humiliating to constitute harassment under Title IX.In addition, he ruled that Farmer was not protected from retaliation because he could not have reasonably believed that he was opposing anything prohibited by Title IX when he complained about the local manager's conversation.The judge dismissed the suit.LAWSUITS & RULINGSThis regular feature summarizes recent court or agency records of interest to academic administrators.
Dean & Provost – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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