Friday, May 15, 2009

More Litigation in Sight For FGCU

Former Florida Gulf Coast University provost Bonnie Yegidis plans to file a lawsuit against the University, which would put FGCU back in the role of Title IX defendant with which it has become quite familiar.

In her complaint, Yegidis maintains that she too experienced retaliation for challenging sex discrimination in the University and for advocating both to the interim President and to the chancellor that FGCU take seriously the complaint of female coaches about the gender inequities in athletics. Yegidis also stood up for Wendy Morris, the university counsel who was terminated for trying to look into the athletics issue. When Yegidis continued her advocacy to the new President, Wilson Bradshaw, he responded by revoked the privileges and benefits as a member of the senior administration and asked for her to submit a letter resigning her position as provost. Yegidis maintains that this demotion and was retaliation for her efforts to challenge sex discrimination directed against her, Morris, and women in the athletic department, and that the university is liable for back pay and benefits, as well as compensation for the distress and humiliation she experienced.

In addition, Yegidis alleges that despite holding the second highest position in the university's administration, she was passed over for the position of interim President nor was she consulted in the decision to install Richard Pegnetter in that role. Yegidis also claims that under former President William Merwin, she experienced "sexually inappropriate comments, sexual intimidation, embarrassment and humiliation" including hearing from Merwin that "she showed too much boob" (Merwin denies making the statement.)

Yegidis is now the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Success at the University of Tennessee. Her retaliation charges are consistent with those of coaches Jaye Flood and Holly Vaugh, who received $3.4 million in settlement, as well as those of Wendy Morris, whose case settled for $850,000. I expect that Yegidis's suit to reach a similar conclusion, the open questions being how much and how long it will take for that to happen.