Wednesday, June 17, 2015

UCLA Sued for Sexual Harassment

The University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) has been sued by several, female graduate students for alleged sexual harassment by a graduate professor according to an article in yesterday's L.A. Times.  The federal lawsuit alleges that the professor made unwanted sexual advances coupled with suggestive comments including allegedly, "pressing his body next to theirs and forcing his tongue in their mouths."

California law defines sexual harassment as verbal or physical conduct that is either: (1) "severe"; or (2) "pervasive".   If the allegations in this lawsuit are true, I would say that it rises to the level of being "severe" under the legal definition in that the conduct involved intimate, non-consensual physical contact.  If the conduct happened on multiple occasions over some period of time, it would also probably be deemed "pervasive" (i.e. offensive conduct which permeates the workplace and creates a hostile working environment).

I will continue to follow this story and provide updates on the litigation and any reaction from University officials or their legal counsel.