Court: Slaughter Won’t Return as Southern System President

BATON ROUGE, La. – A federal appeals court has affirmed a judge’s decision not to return Ralph Slaughter to the presidency of the Southern University System before a trial is held on his lawsuit against the system.

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision late Thursday.

Slaughter claims he was unfairly forced out of the presidency as retaliation for his reporting alleged sexual harassment of women by former Southern system board chairman Johnny Anderson.

Slaughter made similar allegations in a previous lawsuit settled in 2007. At that time, he received a pay raise and a two-year contract as president of the Southern system. He returned to federal court when that contract was not renewed in June 2009.

In the latest case, Slaughter asked in February for an injunction to return him to the presidency immediately. But U.S. District Judge Ralph Tyson refused the request.

Last month, Tyson dismissed Slaughter’s claims that Anderson and former Southern Board Vice Chairwoman Dale Atkins caused him emotional distress and violated his civil rights by preventing renewal of his contract. Tyson noted that Anderson and Atkins were not board members when the renewal of Slaughter’s contract was rejected.

The judge retained for trial Slaughter’s allegation that his dismissal resulted from his public statements about Anderson.

Slaughter’s attorney, Jill Craft, told The Advocate that she was pleased by the ruling because it means a trial will be held. But Anderson’s attorney, Mary Olive-Pierson, noted that the 5th Circuit said Slaughter had failed to show that he was likely to prevail at trial.

Slaughter receives more than $24,000 in monthly retirement benefits for more than three decades of state service.