Depositions released in Graybills' retaliation lawsuit against SHSU, Shipp
Published: Thursday, August 30, 2012
Updated: Thursday, August 30, 2012 01:08
Depositions have been released that shed further light on a lawsuit by two former art professors against the university involving the former Sam Houston State University art department chair.
Jasmyne and Garry Graybill, former professors in the art department, filed a lawsuit against the university alleging former art department chair Tony Shipp created a hostile work environment and retaliated against the couple for speaking out against him.
“[Shipp] retaliated against [the Graybills] for making complaints about Shipp’s violations of their federally protected rights under this statute and voting to remove him from his position,” the original lawsuit states. “[Shipp] retaliated by declining a promised merit raise and reposting [the Graybills’] jobs for the following contract year.”
In his deposition, Shipp said the Graybills’ jobs were intended to be posted every year regardless of their employment. He said this was part of a then-university policy.
“During 2008-2009, the university was already in the process of establishing new guidelines for the posting of non-tenure track positions,” Shipp’s said in his deposition. “As part of this University-wide protocol, I was instructed that all temporary positions should be posted and that all faculty wishing to continue would need to reapply.”
Provost and Vice-President for Academic Affairs Jaimie Hebert was the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the time the claim was filed. He echoed Shipp’s claim the position were always up for reapplication, according to his deposition.
“Both positions were one year contract positions, and required renewal for any subsequent years of teaching,” Hebert said. “These positions remain non-tenure track positions to this day.”
However, Jasmyne Graybill said that Shipp gave her the impression that as long as she had good teaching performance, that she and her husband were guaranteed the jobs for the next year. She said that going into the job, she knew the positions were for a nine-month contract basis.
“In the way that it was presented to me by Shipp, year-to-year meant that every year I would receive another contract…and as long as we were performing well in and wanted to stay, that we would be allowed to stay as long as we wanted,” Jasmyne Graybill said in her deposition. “That was what Shipp portrayed to me.”
The retaliation lawsuit also alleges Shipp denied the Graybills merit raises they say they were promised in the summer before they were hired.
Shipp said non-tenure track, year-to-year employees aren’t entitled to merit raises.
“Since there is no merit pool available for these non-tenure track positions, any increase in salary requires a reduction in another line within the budget,” Shipp said. “As the Chair, I do not have control over the funding allocation of funding lines within the Art Department.”
Shipp said that he isn’t aware of any non-tenure track faculty got a raise for the next year. Instead, he said, it kept with budgetary constraints.
Hebert agreed with Shipp word-for-word about merit raises in his deposition.
The Graybills said Shipp’s retaliated against them because they voted against Shipp in a meeting to decide whether the full-time faculty wanted Shipp to remain as chair.