Court Case: Nash v. Ray L. Belton and the Southern University System

Case adopted 11/05


Case History

Beverly Ann Nash, former vice chancellor of student affairs and assistant professor of education at Southern University at Shreveport, Louisiana (SUSLA), has sued the university for retaliation in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, among other claims.

Nash was hired by SUSLA in January of 2002. Nash claims that in the months following her appointment at least five women came to her with allegations that they were sexually harassed by male SUSLA police officers. Nash brought these allegations to the attention of the chancellor of SUSLA, who was her immediate supervisor, as well as other administrators for investigation. She also filed written reprimands for two specific police officers on behalf of the women.

Nash states that shortly after she spoke out about these allegations she received a threatening voicemail in which the caller used derogatory sex-based language to tell her that she should get out of town. Nash filed a complaint with the police. Following this incident, the women continued to report instances of sexual harassment to Nash, which she in turn forwarded to administrators for further investigation.

The chancellor notified Nash in July 2002 that SUSLA intended to renew her contract in both her administrative and faculty positions. In October 2002, however, without prior warning, the chancellor relieved Nash of her administrative position and reassigned her solely to her faculty position. The change was effective immediately and her salary was abruptly reduced by nearly one-half.

Nash filed a complaint in federal court initially alleging Title VII violations but amended it to a complaint alleging retaliation in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. In February 2005, the court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed Nash’s suit. The court based their decision on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Jackson v. Birmingham Bd. of Education, which held that an individual can not sue for retaliation under Title IX. In March 2005, however, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the 11th Circuit’s decision and ruled that individuals do indeed have the right to pursue a lawsuit under Title IX when they have been subjected to retaliation for protesting sex discrimination. Nash filed a timely notice of appeal.

On August 18, 2006 the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s decision to dismiss Nash’s appeal.

Key Case Issues

Retaliation in violation of Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972