Haley on Trump accusers: “Women should always feel comfortable coming forward”
The president of Allen University is accused of creating a hostile work environment and harassing a secretary, according to a lawsuit filed earlier this year.
Geraldine Livingston, a 64-year-old former executive assistant to Allen University President Ernest McNealey, filed the lawsuit alleging the Methodist college in Columbia broke its contract with her when it fired her without cause.
The suit details multiple instances where McNealey allegedly made inappropriate comments to Livingston.
For example, the lawsuit alleges McNealey insinuated on multiple occasions that Livingston was having an affair with a married male co-worker.
“Further, he referred to a younger Allen University employee as this male co-worker’s and Plaintiff’s son,” according to the civil complaint filed April 6 in Richland County. “Plaintiff made it clear to Dr. McNealey that she did not approve of his comments.”
McNealey also allegedly made “suggestive comments about how she was a good-looking woman,” and said that “women are emotional and have a place.”
Livingston’s lawsuit said she frequently asked McNealey to stop making comments like that, but he did not.
McNealey denied those conversations happened, court documents show. McNealey’s lawyers have denied any wrongdoing.
McNealey was named Allen’s president in 2016 after the abrupt firing of the schools’ prior president, Lady June Cole.
In 2017, 590 undergraduate students attended Allen University, a historically black college, according to S.C. Commission on Higher Education data.
Livingston, who had worked at Allen since 2011, was fired in 2017 after taking time off work for suffering from blurred vision and chest pains, the lawsuit says.
Livingston’s termination letter said, “This action is taken due to the loss of confidence in your reliability, trustworthiness and dependability.”
The suit is currently in mediation, court documents show.
Livingston’s attorney, Mary Allison Caudell of the Columbia-based Turner Caudell law firm, declined to comment. The State left two messages with the university’s attorney, Christopher Johnson of Columbia-based firm Gignilliat, Savitz & Bettis LLP, but did not receive a response.
Livingston also alleges in the suit that “Dr. McNealey would routinely say that no one could tell him what to do and would brag that he has been sued previously for workplace harassment.”
While McNealey was the president of Stillman College, a private school in Tuscaloosa, Ala., he was implicated in two lawsuits against the school.
In 2005, a lawsuit that alleged Stillman College engaged in “reverse discrimination based on race” after a white staff member was fired. While the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found the school violated the Civil Rights Act by firing the white staff member, Stillman won the lawsuit, court documents show.
In 2009, the American Association of University Professors censured the school for firing a professor who spoke critically of McNealey, according to the association’s website.
Livingston’s lawsuit criticized McNealey’s management style as “my way or the highway,” the same words a 2013 article in Diverse: Issues in Higher Education used to describe how McNealey’s critics viewed him.