Nashville, TN- Universities and colleges have been under fire for the way they handle complaints of sexual harassment and assault Repeated complaints have led to federal investigations for 55 universities and colleges across the country, including Vanderbilt University. Now, the prestigious school is facing a $20 million harassment lawsuit filed by a former grad student who alleges one of her professors subjected her to sexual harassment and discrimination.
In her lawsuit, the former med school graduate alleges in her lawsuit that one of her professors repeatedly subjected her to sexual harassment that continued after she reported the incidents to the professor’s supervisor.
News Channel 5 outlined some of the complaints included in the student’s suit. Those complaints include:
“At a conference the professor ‘… required the female graduate students to attend a boat party where the male professors became intoxicated and were allowed to make romantic and sexual advances on the students.’”
The professor regularly called the “student ugly, fat… and a stupid in front of other students.”
Even though the professor knew the grad student was a recovering alcoholic, he suggested she “start drinking again because she would be more fun” and once told her she needed to have sex more often so she would be less stressed.
The student told the professor’s supervisor about the alleged incidents but said it appeared to be a personality conflict and took no action to stop his unwanted behavior, according to News Channel 5.
In the lawsuit, filed earlier this month, the student named Vanderbilt University administrators, which include a chancellor, a dean and a department director, according to Business Insider.
According to the student’s suit, the professor’s comments forced her to quit school before she could complete course work for her PhD.
The timing of this lawsuit is bad from Vanderbilt who is already under investigation by the Departments of Education and Justice for their handling of sexual assault and harassment complaints. Those investigations came on the wake of repeated complaints from students who say their complaints of sexual harassment and assault are being ignored by college administrators. In many cases, complaints are never investigated.
Even when students do file a formal complaint, the individual responsible for the harassment or assault is rarely punished. If they are punished, they are often dealt with leniency and rarely face serious consequences such as suspension.
Thirty-five percent of women will face sexual harassment or assault at least once in their lifetime. Some incidents of sexual harassment, both in the workplace and on college campuses, can be prevented with a strong sexual harassment policy. But that won’t prevent harassment from occurring at all.
When the victim of sexual harassment has filed a formal complaint, and their employer has either ignored their allegations or refused to discipline the offending employee, they have another course of action they can take. They can contact a sexual harassment attorney in their area and discuss the possibility of filing a civil suit.