Former WT Title IX director sues university

Former Director of Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance Department, Georganna Ecker, is suing West Texas A&M University and the Texas A&M University System, according to court documents filed on March 10 2023 in the Amarillo Division of the Northern District of Texas. The lawsuit says WT and the Texas A&M System violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

According to the court document, Ecker was terminated on March 1 2022. Ecker was investigating allegations of sex discrimination with the University Police Department (UPD) in the second half of 2021. Ecker found evidence of sex discrimination and unlawful conduct. One current and former female officer presented discrimination complaints against two male officers. Her investigation also found unlawful violations involving Shawn Burns, Chief of Police for the UPD. Ecker placed one of the officers on suspension and believed this triggered retaliation by Burns.

On Dec. 7, 2021, Ecker was removed from the investigation at the recommendation of Brian Bricker, Office of General Counsel for the Texas A&M System. Ecker stepped down as director and emailed John Sharp, Chancellor of the Texas A&M System, and other officials to express concerns.

“It’s my understanding the University Police Department completed a climate survey several years ago that revealed issues inherent in the overall system but was intentionally disregarded by Burns,” Ecker said in an email to Sharp.

Ecker claims a close relationship between Burns, Bricker and Randy Rikel, Vice-President for Business and Finance, was interfering with the investigation and putting her job at risk.

“Rikel is University Police Chief Shawn Burns’ direct report and friend, and Bricker is also alleged to have a close relationship with Burns,” Ecker said in an email to Sharp. “I believe this has obscured Rikel’s and Bricker’s ability to remain unbiased, and I fear termination for speaking out.”

In Jan. 2022, Ecker learned that Burns had said, “When all this is over, bodies are going to be stacked, starting across the hall.” Ecker took it as a threat as her office was across the hall from Burns’s office. Burns claimed that he didn’t mean it as a threat. A couple of weeks later, Ecker was terminated.

Ecker has asked the court that WT and Texas A&M System pay for damages, including “for back pay, loss of benefits, compensatory damages, reinstatement or in the alternative front pay, attorneys’ fees, pre-and post-judgment interest as provided by law, and all costs of court.”

Court documents also noted that Ecker demanded a trial by jury.

Complaint Filed