University of California Failed to Protect Students From Sexual Harassment

Los Angeles, CA (Law Firm Newswire) June 27, 2017 - Responding to a California Public Records Act request from the media, the University of California (UC) released documents detailing over 100 reports of sexual harassment and assault that occurred at the 10 UC campuses.

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Between January 2013 and April 2016, 113 faculty and staff members were accused of sexual harassment and assault, according to the University documents.

During that three-year period, UC was found to have violated the system’s sexual violence and sexual harassment policies. The UC was also in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, a federal law that protects students of education programs from discrimination on the basis of sex.

Under Title IX, discrimination on the basis of sex can include sexual harassment or sexual violence, such as rape, sexual assault, sexual battery and sexual coercion. Title IX applies to any education program, public or private, that receives federal funds. By federal law, a school has the responsibility to respond promptly and appropriately to any incident of sexual harassment or sexual violence that they know or should have known about.

Several of the Title IX violations involved senior faculty and highly ranked professors who were not properly disciplined for their sexual misconduct. In 2015, astronomy professor Geoffrey Marcy resigned following complaints from female students that he had touched them inappropriately. It was discovered that UC Berkeley had originally responded by letting him off with a warning of suspension or dismissal, spurring public outrage.

After further sexual misconduct cases emerged in the media, a 2016 investigation revealed that the UC campuses had been incredibly lax in addressing sexual harassment reports, only investigating one in four cases between 2012 and 2015.

The UC documents indicate that three-quarters of the complaints were against staff, and one-quarter against faculty. More than half of the complaints were issued by staff, and 35 percent were made by students. The complaints ranged from verbal sexual harassment, stalking, groping and sexual assault, including touching of intimate body parts.

In one of the largest settlements of a Title IX sexual assault case, the UC Regents agreed to pay a settlement of $1.15 million to a student who was allegedly raped by a UC Santa Cruz professor. In April 2017, the UC Regents also agreed to a $1.7 million settlement paid to a UC employee who had allegedly been sexually harassed by the former dean of UC Berkeley’s law school.

"If you have reason to believe that your employer has not followed through with an investigation after you filed a sexual harassment complaint or you feel that you are working in a hostile environment contact our offices," says Strong Advocates Executive Director, Betsy Havens.

Strong Advocates
6601 Center Drive West, Suite 500
Los Angeles, CA 90045
Phone: (310) 803-9820

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