ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
some text
Staff file Photo by Robin Rudd/ George Heddleston was vice chancellor for communications and marketing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

George Heddleston, former vice chancellor for communications and marketing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, resigned last week after the school's Office of Equity and Inclusion determined he had harassed female employees.

The Office of Equity and Inclusion found he had violated a total of three university policies in its investigation of three complaints filed against Heddleston by female employees in the Office of Communications and Marketing since 2017, according to UTC documents obtained Tuesday by the Times Free Press.

In response to the most recent complaint, the Office of Equity and Inclusion determined in July that Heddleston violated the policies on equal opportunity employment, sexual harassment and other discriminatory harassment and code of conduct toward two female UTC employees between 2019 and 2021, according to the documents.

Investigators found that Heddleston's conduct violated university policies by including unwanted flirting, disparaging comments and retaliatory behavior toward the employees, according to the documents.

In response to two prior complaints, UTC Chancellor Steve Angle determined Heddleston did not violate university policy, according to the documents, but required him to complete sexual harassment and sensitivity training for the first complaint and had human resources conduct a needs assessment of the department as a result of the second complaint.

The first complaint from 2017 said a female employee in the communications office said Heddleston created a hostile work environment for women and "made numerous inappropriate statements about race, gender and the LGBTQ community," according to the documents.

In the second complaint from late 2019 and early 2020, two female employees in the communications office said Heddleston denied professional development opportunities to female employees and made inappropriate comments about women based on gender, the documents said.

A March letter from Angle to Heddleston identified fear of retaliation and a toxic work environment as concerns from employee feedback gathered in the needs assessment.

Heddleston, who became vice chancellor in 2017, did not provide reasons for his resignation, UTC officials said in a Monday email. He resigned Aug. 16, one day before UTC's fall semester classes began.

Heddleston's salary was $209,607, officials said via email, and he did not receive severance pay, nor was he eligible for retirement benefits under university policy.

Gina Stafford now serves as the school's interim vice chancellor for communications and marketing, according to the UTC website. Heddleston could not be reached for comment.

Contact Anika Chaturvedi at achaturvedi@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT