Charge of Discrimination Against Saint Augustine’s University

Case type: Discrimination, Retaliation, Wrongful Termination

Filed with: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Case Summary

On December 19, 2023, Sanford Heisler Sharp filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on behalf of Dr. Christine Johnson McPhail, former president of Saint Augustine’s University, alleging discrimination and retaliation against the University and its Board of Trustees.

Dr. McPhail was selected in 2021 as the 13th President of Saint Augustine’s, a Historically Black College and University “(HBCU”) located in Raleigh, N.C. The EEOC Charge alleges that Dr. McPhail and her Black female peers at Saint Augustine’s were subjected to a pattern of discrimination, including demeaning and berating comments.

Dr. McPhail was herself derided by a male Trustee at an October 2023 board meeting, the Charge alleges. After this meeting, when Dr. McPhail filed an internal complaint alleging that certain trustees created a “hostile environment,” the Board threatened to terminate her employment as President, the Charge alleges. Refusing to be forced into silence, Dr. McPhail retained legal counsel for her claims of discrimination and retaliation, informing the Board on November 6, 2023. In retaliation, two trustees contacted Dr. McPhail the next day to chastise her and threaten her job. A week later, Saint Augustine’s Board of Trustees voted to terminate Dr. McPhail’s employment.

The Charge alleges that Dr. McPhail has suffered substantial economic damages, emotional distress, and reputational harm.