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Employees Sue GCC College Ex-President Over Rights Violation

Garden City Community College and its former president are in trouble after a group of former and current employees filed a lawsuit over various constitutional rights violations.

The lawsuit, filed on Wednesday by six employees, alleges former president Herbert Swender of curtailing various freedoms including free speech, conducting searches and seizing private phones of employees, putting restrictions on speaking with the press, and imposing religion on the plaintiffs, according to KSNW TV.

“The castigation, punishment, intimidation, seizure, and searches were especially egregious as applied to Plaintiffs, none of whom disseminated the recording to the media,” the lawsuit reads. “His mandates have had a chilling effect on their right to speak to the media about matters of public importance and has caused Plaintiffs anxiety, humiliation, and other forms of emotional distress.”

Last year, the Garden City Community College Faculty Senate presented a 28-page report to the college Board of Trustees and alleged Swender of retaliation, intimidation, bullying and sexual harassment which led to the termination of his contract.

The college later paid him $278,000 in a settlement and hired the services of Kansas City attorney Greg Goheen to investigate the claims. Within his final report, Goheen contradicted various claims made in the report from the Faculty Senate.

“It is clear that a certain number of the Faculty had developed a level of distrust toward Dr. Swender and the College administration, and that this distrust was shared by Dr. Swender and other members of the College administration particularly after the presentation of the Faculty Report to the Board. It is also apparent that, at least, some of the perceptions that lead to this mistrust are due to a lack of understanding and/or communication,” reads the report.

Meanwhile, the plaintiff continues to maintain that the former president fostered a hostile environment for its employees and are seeking a jury trial to further look into the case.

 

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