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California law school dean sued for sexual harassment

A recent article in a leading newspaper reports that the dean of the number eight law school in the country has taken an indefinite leave of absence following a recent lawsuit. It is always abhorrent when those in power take advantage of their position, but when a situation involves those in charge of training some of the brightest legal minds of the future, it is especially egregious. The sexual harassment lawsuit names both the dean and the University of California Board of Regents as defendants.

The complaint states that the executive assistant of the dean was touched and kissed inappropriately on a daily basis over a period of six months. She reported the behavior to her supervisors, and U.C. Berkeley's Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination opened an investigation. During the course of the investigation, the dean admitted to hugging, kissing and caressing his assistant several times a week.  In addition, he admitted to doing the same to other female employees.

The school determined the best course of action was to cut the dean's salary by 10 percent, seek counseling at his expense and require him to apologize to his assistant. The school also provided paid administrative leave to the assistant. At one point, a university official told the assistant that the school seriously considered firing the dean, but chose not to do so as it would adversely affect his career and chances for a higher appointment.

Male or female employees facing similar situations could be eligible for compensation for emotional and financial damages incurred from sexual harassment. It is important to understand the options available under the law. A California employment law attorney will be able to effectively evaluate the case and give guidance on the appropriate course of action.

Source: The Washington Post, "U.C. Berkeley Law dean on indefinite leave of absence after sexual harassment suit", Lindsey Bever, March 10, 2016

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