Woman files lawsuit against Belhaven University, online admissions director for sexual discrimination

Tarold Durham (Photo: Belhaven University website)

JACKSON, Miss. (WTJV) — A woman is suing Belhaven University and an admissions director after she claims she was denied employment because she refused sexual advances from the Director of Online Admission.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday by Erica Stewart.

The complaint alleges that the Director of Online Admissions, Tarold Durham, sent her explicit text messages and made sexual advancements toward her on social media.

The lawsuit states that Stewart applied for a receptionist position in November 2015 at Belhaven.

She said Durham initially started making inappropriate advances towards her social media and then it escalated to text messages. The complaint said one of the messages Durham sent read “Can I get something for the interview?” The lawsuit also says he sent Stewart a photo of his penis.

In January 2016, Stewart said she was notified that the receptionist position was no longer available. The lawsuit said she then contacted the EEOC.

Stewart claims that Belhaven and its board members negligently hired Durham.

WJTV has reached out to Belhaven for a comment about the lawsuit. Below is the school’s statement:

“Belhaven University received notice of Ms. Stewart’s lawsuit today via an inquiry from a media outlet.  The University has not been served with a copy of the complaint.  Ms. Steward filed a charge of discrimination in January, 2016 alleging an unlawful employment practice that was thoroughly investigated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the University.  The EEOC issued a determination that it was “unable to conclude that the information obtained establishes violations of the statutes…” and dismissed the charge on June 22, 2016.  Belhaven takes all allegations of sexual harassment and alleged inappropriate conduct serious and thoroughly investigates all reports made to the University.  Belhaven will respond to the allegations asserted by Ms. Stewart in turn through the litigation process.”

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