Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

SPC sued by woman turned down for provost job

The EEOC says St. Petersburg College president Bill Law, right, retaliated against Sherri Davis for a discrimination complaint.


The EEOC says St. Petersburg College president Bill Law, right, retaliated against Sherri Davis for a discrimination complaint.

ST. PETERSBURG — The president of St. Petersburg College said it was a professional courtesy. A woman who had been turned down for the top job at the college's downtown campus had filed a gender discrimination complaint; Bill Law decided to tell her current employer and all her references what she had done.

"I would certainly want to know if any of my senior employees was involved in a legal matter that could affect the college," Law wrote in a letter to Sherri Davis' boss.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission saw Law's actions differently. The commission ruled in January that Law was retaliating against Davis, the academic dean at Lawson State Community College in Alabama, for speaking out about possible discrimination.

"It is likely that a reasonable person would be chilled and dissuaded from engaging in protected activity if their current employer and professional references were notified," Georgia Marchbanks, director of the EEOC's Tampa office, wrote in the ruling.

Now, Davis is suing Law and SPC's board of trustees for both retaliation and discrimination, seeking the provost position at the downtown campus, back pay and benefits, and other compensation. The lawsuit was filed in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court.

The equal employment commission did not find evidence of gender discrimination. Law faces no penalty from the EEOC for the retaliation ruling, but the finding could aid Davis in her legal case.

Davis did not receive permission from her attorneys to speak to the press in time to comment for this story.

The provost job went to Kevin Gordon, who was the principal of Gibbs High School at the time he was hired in late 2011. He holds a master's degree in educational leadership and, at the time of his hire, was nearly done with a doctorate in the same field from the University of South Florida.

According to Davis' LinkedIn page, she was a principal with Birmingham Public Schools before coming to Lawson State Community College. She holds a master's in education from Cambridge College and a doctorate degree in education administration and supervision from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Wilma Norton, a spokeswoman for SPC, said the college "is not in a position to comment on the lawsuit at this time."

Contact Lisa Gartner at You can also follow her on Twitter (@lisagartner).

SPC sued by woman turned down for provost job 05/17/13 [Last modified: Friday, May 17, 2013 8:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs' Doug Martin relying on strength from drug rehab to power his return


    TAMPA — He would not talk about the drug he abused. He would not identify the rehab facility he entered in January or how long he was there.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin participates in an "open OTA practice" at One Buc Place, the team's training facility, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
  2. NCAA: Former USF basketball assistant gave improper benefits


    TAMPA — Former USF men's basketball assistant coach Oliver Antigua provided impermissible benefits, including lodging at his home, for two prospective student-athletes while they received on-campus tutoring, according to findings reported to the school by the NCAA.

  3. Quiet college dropout turned bomber: Who was Salman Abedi?


    LONDON — He was quiet and withdrawn, a college dropout who liked soccer — and, some say, showed alarming signs of being radicalized years before he walked into a pop concert at Britain's Manchester Arena and detonated a powerful bomb, killing himself and 22 others.

    Salman Abedi was identified by British authorities as the man behind Monday’s attack.
  4. Soldiers launch attacks in besieged Philippine city


    MARAWI, Philippines — Backed by tanks and rocket-firing helicopters, Philippine troops launched "precision attacks" Thursday to clear extremists linked to the Islamic State group from a city that has been under siege since a raid that failed to capture one of Asia's most-wanted militants.

    Soldiers fire at enemy positions Thursday while trying to clear the city of Marawi, Philippines, of armed militants.
  5. Back to .500, Rays feel ready to roll (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Who wants to be mediocre? Middling? Average? Run-of-the-mill?

    Rays catcher Jesus Sucre tags out the Angels’ Mike Trout trying to score from second base after a perfect peg from rightfielder Steven Souza Jr. in the first inning.