East Georgia College: Professor Fired Without a Hearing over Mysterious 'Sexual Harassment' Charge


East Georgia College

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Case Overview


During a faculty training session in 2009, Professor Thomas Thibeault argued that East Georgia College's (EGC's) sexual harassment policy was flawed for not offering protection against false or malicious accusations of harassment. Two days later, EGC President John B. Black ordered Thibeault to resign his position or be fired and have his "long history of sexual harassment ... made public." Thibeault had never before faced such charges. He refused to resign and was escorted from campus by police. Black later informed Thibeault that he had only been "suspended" but that he faced termination for sexual harassment, and failed to provide Thibeault with a hearing or a chance to review any charges against him. After the Georgia Attorney General's office began to investigate, Black abandoned the sexual harassment claim and reinstated Thibeault, but EGC censured Thibeault for his allegedly "offensive" speech and refused to rehire him. In 2010, Thibeault filed a lawsuit against EGC, Black, and Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs Mary Smith, alleging violations of his free speech rights. The parties reached a settlement in August 2011 in which Thibeault and his attorneys received $50,000, President Black was required to provide a letter of reference for Thibeault, and all references to Thibeault's termination were removed from his employee file.