Los Angeles, CA– Sexual harassment is a behavior that many people encounter at college and in the workplace and, yet, many instances go unreported. There are numerous reasons for that but often victims of sexual harassment are asked to keep their allegations quiet to avoid tarnishing the reputation of a college or employer. At least that
In a federal suit filed this week, two grad students from UCLA allege that one of their history professors sexually harassed them. When they tried to report the professor’s behavior to administrators at UCLA, they were asked to keep quiet about the harassment and not push for a formal investigation, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The lawsuit alleges, Professor Gabriel Piterberg made inappropriate comments and unwanted advances towards the two students which include pressing his body against theirs and trying to push his tongue into their mouths, the Times also reports.
One of the women allege that the professor began sexually harassing her in 2008 and it continued to 2013. Like most targets, she was reluctant to come forward but felt embolden to report the behavior to a female supervisor when she found that her co-defendant had already filed a formal complaint. UCLA never investigated her claims.
The other student named in the suit alleges that when she filed a formal complaint, Pieterberg who was acting as her graduate advisor, “all but admitted” to harassing her. She, however, was convinced to drop her claim when she was reminded that the Academic Senate would be more likely to side with the professor, according to the Times.
This is yet another federal lawsuit alleging that a university covered up allegations of sexual harassment. A recent report from the Huffington Post found that 143 colleges and universities across the U.S. for mishandling complaints of sexual harassment and assault. Mishandling ranges from encouraging students to keep quiet about incidents, failing to investigate, not taking action against the harasser and failing to report incidents as required by law.
It’s true that people have a knee-jerk reaction to sexual harassment and want employers to take action quickly. Action can only come after an employer or college conducts and investigation. But as the case of these two women show, many administrators or employers don’t bother to investigate. They don’t want the stigma hanging over them so they ignore it. Which is a shame for the victims and a shame for the employer since ignoring sexual harassment causes emotional distress for the victim and exposes an employer or university to civil liability.
Sexual harassment is not just an off the collar joke or one-off comment, in many cases it happens so often that it causes extreme emotional distress. That is what the two women who filed this lawsuit alleged. If you are being harassed and nothing is being done about it, USAttorneys can help you find a sexual harassment attorney in your area to help you with all aspects of your case.