Dr. William P. Harman vs. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Date / Time

Lower Court Summary

This appeal involves the Tennessee Public Protection Act. The plaintiff professor was a department head at the defendant university. As the department head, the plaintiff evaluated a subordinate professor. The dean of the university instructed the plaintiff to remove negative information from the evaluation; the plaintiff refused. The plaintiff was then removed from his position as department head. He continued at the university as a tenured professor. The plaintiff sued the university asserting a claim under the Public Protection Act, alleging that he was discharged or terminated for refusing to participate in or remain silent about illegal activities. The trial court granted the university’s motion for judgment on the pleadings on the basis, inter alia, that the plaintiff was neither terminated nor discharged. The plaintiff now appeals. We affirm, concluding that the removal of the plaintiff from his position as department head, when he remained employed as a professor, is not a termination or discharge under the Public Protection Act.

Supreme Court
Eastern Section