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State Audit Says U California Paid $4.5 Million in Harassment Settlements

June 22, 2018
 
 

A state audit released Thursday said the University of California campuses at Berkeley, Los Angeles and Davis did not consistently discipline faculty members accused of sexual harassment, the Los Angeles Times reported. The campuses also took longer to discipline members of the Academic Senate than staff members. Across its campuses, the university system paid out nearly $4.5 million in 20 settlements related to sexual harassment from 2008 to 2017. The audit found the settlements were reasonable, according to the Times. But it found that the university could improve in responding to complaints with clearer communication and times frames. The audit also recommended that the university require administrators dealing with these cases to consult the campus office for compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits gender-based harassment. System President Janet Napolitano accepted all recommendations in a letter to the auditor and noted that the university has been working to overhaul its harassment policies and responses since 2014. 

California Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian reportedly requested the audit last year after learning about a case involving a Ph.D. student in French at the Los Angeles campus who alleged that her faculty advisor, Eric Gans, repeatedly expressed romantic interest in her for two years, through 2012. The student complained, and the university found that Gans had violated workplace policies by creating a hostile environment and attempting to initiate a relationship with someone he supervised. He agreed to resign and seek no further work with the university. The student’s settlement included an undisclosed payment but also prohibited her from studying or working at any system campus or affiliate. In seeking the audit, Nazarian said it was “imperative to audit and see if this is a common practice among any state agency to revictimize those they have allowed to be a victim to begin with,” the Times reported. The audit revealed no other settlements that stipulated a ban on future employment for reporters of harassment.

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