Emory, Sexton Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

The University has settled its lawsuit with Melissa Sexton, the former community research postdoctoral fellow who alleged in her complaint that an administrator fired her in 2012 for discriminatory reasons, according to court documents.

Both the University and Sexton’s lawyer Matthew Billips also confirmed that a settlement has been reached. A joint notice of settlement filed Jan. 2 says that as of that date, the two parties were in the process of finalizing an agreement.

Nancy Seideman, Emory’s interim vice president for communications and marketing, wrote in an email to the Wheel that “the terms of the settlement are confidential.” Billips declined to comment on any specifics.

In her lawsuit, Sexton claimed that Ozzie Harris, former senior vice provost for community and diversity, exhibited “discriminatory conduct” during verbal altercations with her that ultimately led to Sexton being fired.

The lawsuit further alleged that other employees had previously told Sexton that Harris discriminated against women.

Sexton’s lawsuit specifically accuses Harris of firing Sexton because she objected to Harris promoting a much-less qualified male candidate to a position in which she had expressed interest, and for responding to and disagreeing with comments Harris made about women not immediately reporting instances of rape or sexual harassment.

Harris is no longer employed by the University as of Oct. 7, the Wheel reported, though the University declined to comment on whether the lawsuit was related to his departure from Emory.

Sexton, meanwhile, worked at Emory for more than a decade. She held multiple positions at the University and helped lead the Transforming Community Project, which studies and aims to promote dialogue on race history.

—By Jordan Friedman

Follow Jordan Friedman on Twitter @jmfriedman8