A complaint filed on Tuesday against University of California Berkeley Law School dean Sujit Choudhry and the University of California Board of Regents alleges that Choudhry sexually harassed his executive assistant beginning in 2014. In the lawsuit, Choudhry’s executive assistant Tyann Sorrell claims that he began kissing and touching her once he became dean.
The Washington Post reports:
“Choudhry’s kissing and hugging plaintiff was a near daily occurrence,” she said in the lawsuit. “Choudhry’s conduct made plaintiff feel disgusted, humiliated, exposed and dirty. She wondered what she had done to make him think it was OK for him to touch her.”
Sorrell is suing on eight counts, including sexual harassment, failure to take “reasonable steps,” and failure to follow mandatory statutory duty. The latter claim results from an investigation of Choudhry by UC Berkeley’s Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination in July 2015. The Daily Californian, UC Berkeley’s student newspaper, reports that during that investigation, Choudhry admitted to “hugging, kissing, messaging or caressing Sorrell at least multiple times per week.” He also admitted to sexually harassing other female employees.
Instead of firing Choudhry, UC Berkeley reduced his pay by 10 percent and required him to write a letter of apology to Sorrell. In her suit, Sorrell alleges that she was told by Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Claude Steele that the office decided against firing Choudhry because “it would ruin the Dean’s career.” In 2014, Choudhry’s total pay was $472,917. Apparently it costs roughly $47,000 to sexually harass female employees.
Sorrell is suing for monetary compensation “sufficient to punish and make an example out of all individual Defendants,” as well as reimbursement of all legal fees.
The Choudhry news comes on the heels of UC Berkeley’s failure to respond to multiple sexual harassment complaints against former astronomy professor Geoff Marcy. Between 2001-2010, Marcy sexually harassed numerous students, including unwanted kissing and groping, which the university routinely ignored, favoring Marcy, an esteemed scholar, over their female students.
So take note women in academia (and well, every woman who’s just trying to go to work): sexual harassment by a highly regarded male faculty member has a cost, it’s just not very high. It comes out to only about $50,000 or less to grope, kiss and persistently harass women.
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Image via AP.