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Former Saint Augustine’s University president Christine Johnson McPhail, who was recently fired by the SAU Board of Trustees, has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging she was subjected to a hostile work environment. McPhail also alleges that the mostly male board discriminated against her and other Black women.

Saint Augustine’s is a historically Black college located in North Carolina.

One male trustee allegedly yelled, “Woman, did you hear me speak? I demand you answer my question,” during an Oct. 5 board meeting, according to a news release from the law firm representing McPhail, which detailed other alleged incidents of hostile behavior by trustees.

McPhail was allegedly threatened with termination in early November after she filed an internal complaint on Oct. 9 and later retained legal counsel to pursue claims of discrimination and retaliation. Local news outlets first reported her firing on Dec. 6.

McPhail was hired in February 2021, filling a role previously held by her late husband, Irving McPhail, who died from COVID-19 complications in October 2020 after a few months on the job.

Her short tenure was fraught with challenges, including the recent loss of SAU’s accreditation related to governance and financial issues. SAU remains accredited during the appeal process.

SAU’s Board of Trustees denied the charges in a statement sent to local media. “The Board denies the unfounded allegations Dr. McPhail has made against the University, and the Board is prepared to defend itself and the institution,” read a statement provided to WRAL. SAU declined further comment, noting, “This is a personnel matter.”