by Jacob Sanchez, Fort Worth Report
July 13, 2023
A lawsuit against Tarrant County College remains in a federal court after a judge dismissed a claim from a former employee and denied a motion from the higher education institution.
U.S. District Judge Jane Boyle dismissed a breach-of-contract claim from Kristen Bennett, the college’s former executive vice president of advancement, following a request from TCC lawyers to dismiss the case, according to court documents. However, Boyle, of the Northern District of Texas, allowed Bennett’s retaliation claim to move forward.
“What remains before the court is the question of whether they unlawfully retaliated against her,” Bennett’s attorney, Frank Hill, told the Fort Worth Report.
Bennett filed her lawsuit against the college in February 2022. She alleged then-Chancellor Eugene Giovannini retaliated against her for disciplining an employee with whom the college leader was having an affair.
On July 12, TCC filed a motion for the rest of the case to move forward without a full trial, according to court records.
TCC did not immediately respond to a Fort Worth Report request to comment.
In court documents, TCC stated Bennett’s retaliation claim does not meet standards established in federal law.
The college does not allow employees to rescind their resignations, according to a motion from TCC. Bennett resigned after months of meeting with Giovannini, but backtracked. TCC ultimately placed her on administrative leave, and Bennett officially left her position in early 2022.
TCC lawyers stated the college would have terminated Bennett because she reportedly did not file an employee’s claim of sexual harassment and for sharing an unverified criminal background report about a worker with people who reported to her, according to court documents.
Hill plans to file a brief pushing back against TCC’s argument in its request for summary judgment, he said.
Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at email@example.com or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.