TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, March 13, 2017

Profs Sue For Retaliation, Hostile Work Environment After Denver University Failed To Respond To Complaints About Colleague's Masturbation In His Office

BlackInside Higher Ed, Dropping the Ball on Professor's Dropped Trou?:

In an eyebrow-raising lawsuit filed last week against Metro State University in Denver, two professors say they were retaliated against for reporting a colleague’s alleged sexual indiscretion with … himself. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission granted the plaintiffs right-to-sue notices, but the implicated professor denies all claims against him. The university also denies the allegations and plans a vigorous defense.

The complaint was brought by Kamran Sahami, a professor of physics and former president of the university’s Faculty Senate, and Kristin Watson, a former non-tenure-track professor of communications and business. Watson alleges that she saw Gregory Black [right], chair of marketing, masturbating in his office in 2011 but didn’t report the incident to administrators for several years, in part because she was “shocked and traumatized,” and because she lacked tenure and feared for her job.

Black himself is not named as a defendant, but the suit against Metro State alleges a pattern of behavior on his part. The plaintiffs claim they were subjected to a sexually hostile work environment, in addition to retaliation.

Unbeknownst to Watson, another faculty member — who is not named in the suit — allegedly observed Black engaged in similar behavior in his office on multiple occasions. The professor reported Black to the university’s coordinator for sexual harassment and assault, as well as the dean of the College of Business, according to the complaint.

In 2014, Sahami, then president of the Senate, allegedly received a call from an anonymous student saying she, too, had seen Black masturbating in the marketing department. Sahami says he told the student that the issue was outside the scope of his responsibilities, and that she should report it to the business dean. The caller reportedly told him that she feared retaliation for any report, since it was rumored that another professor had been fired for complaining about Black’s alleged extracurricular activities. ...

Black in an email denied all allegations against him and referred additional questions to the university. Cathy Lucas, Metro State spokesperson, said in a statement that the university “denies the allegations contained in this complaint, and we assert there are many factual errors and statements in the claim. The university will dispute these allegations in court.”

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2017/03/dropping-the-ball-on-professors-dropped-trou.html

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Comments

Law can be quite stimulating, I think.

Posted by: michael livingston | Mar 14, 2017 12:29:03 AM

A state legislator in Texas has proposed a $100 fine for unauthorized, ah, well you know. A law like this could make life expensive for certain men.

Posted by: Dale Spradling | Mar 14, 2017 6:56:42 AM