University of Rochester and plaintiffs settle sexual harassment lawsuit for $9.four million | Science
The University of Rochester (U of R) is paying $9.four million to settle a high-profile sexual harassment lawsuit that divided an esteemed division, landed two of the plaintiffs on the quilt of Time journal, and was intently watched by different establishments of greater training. The plaintiffs introduced the settlement as we speak as they issued a joint assertion with the college.
The lawsuit, filed in December 2017 by 9 now-former professors and college students in U of R’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, alleged that the college retaliated towards and defamed them after they alleged sexual harassment by linguist Florian Jaeger. Three plaintiffs additionally alleged that Jaeger created a sexually hostile setting. (The college has by no means discovered Jaeger responsible of sexual harassment.)
The settlement comes 7 months after the federal choose within the case upheld the authorized validity, in complete or partially, of 16 of the plaintiffs’ 17 claims within the lawsuit, clearing the best way for a court docket battle the place they might have needed to show the claims have been factually correct. The college had moved to dismiss all of the claims.
“We consider it a major victory for all of the faculty and students who were harassed,” says plaintiff and developmental neuroscientist Jessica Cantlon of Carnegie Mellon University. “It’s a significant settlement. I think it’s going to have a really powerful impact on how seriously universities take women who come forward with complaints of sexual harassment. This is something that universities will notice.”
The plaintiffs’ chief lawyer, Ann Olivarius of McAllister Olivarius, stated: “It is very unusual for senior professors to band together with junior faculty and students, as happened in this case, to try to protect students from harassment. … We commend UR for improving its policies and turning the page on this very long struggle.”
In a joint assertion issued by the college and the plaintiffs as we speak, U of R thanked the plaintiffs “for bringing forward their concerns about sexual harassment” and added: “The influence of the plaintiffs’ efforts has resulted in actual enchancment to the University processes. … Even the legal guidelines of New York have been positively impacted by the plaintiffs’ efforts.” (In August 2019, pushed partially by the U of R case, New York state enacted sweeping adjustments to its sexual harassment legal guidelines.)
“We are pleased to have achieved a successful mediated resolution to this matter,” the college stated in a separate assertion. “The willingness of our insurance carrier to pay the entire settlement amount was a factor in our decision. No party to the settlement admitted liability or fault. Since the claims were filed, the University has taken a number of important steps, including establishing an Office of Equity and Inclusion, strengthening policies, clarifying processes, and expanding training and resources to prevent and address sexual misconduct.”
Jaeger’s lawyer, Steven Modica of the Modica Law Firm, stated in an announcement that Jaeger “is very disappointed” that the plaintiffs’ claims gained’t be challenged in court docket. “He believes sincerely that, had these claims been tested, the Court would have reached the same conclusion that Mary Jo White and her team reached after their extensive and independent investigation, that is: ‘In sum, we find that the evidence does not support a conclusion that any Complainant or other UR student or employee has been subjected to unlawful sexual harassment as a result of Jaeger’s conduct.’”
The college in 2017 employed the legislation agency Debevoise & Plimpton to conduct an investigation led by associate Mary Jo White for which it paid $four.5 million. White’s report concluded “We … do not believe that any potential claimant or plaintiff would be able to sustain a legal claim for sexual harassment in violation of [federal law].”
Asked what drove the massive money settlement, Cantlon stated: “A lot of people who were affected by this were pushed out of jobs and lives that they loved and had to start over. That was the basis of our argument—the scope and scale of the impact that the sexual harassment and retaliation had on the plaintiffs.”
The plaintiffs, who’re male and feminine and whose ages span many years, plan to supply a portion of the settlement cash to some 20 girls whose careers, they are saying, have been damage by a hostile setting to girls within the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.
The settlement marks the tip of a tumultuous episode that additionally drove U of R’s then-president, Joel Seligman, from workplace. It isn’t the most important paid by a college for the reason that rise of the #MeToo motion in 2017. In August 2019 Dartmouth College paid $14.four million to 9 girls who stated they have been raped, sexually assaulted, or harassed by three professors in its Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.