UR is paying $9.4 million in settling a lawsuit with nine former students and faculty members, who claim UR retaliated against those who spoke up about professor T. Florian Jaeger’s alleged misconduct.
The uproar over the allegations in the fall of 2017 spurred the federal lawsuit, as well as an investigation from former U.S. attorney Mary Jo White, and the resignation of then-University President Joel Seligman. Seligman, along with Provost Robert Clark and the University itself, was named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Jaeger, who is not a defendant, still teaches in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences department at UR.
“We hope this settlement encourages people affected by discrimination and retaliation to seek justice and never give up,” Richard Aslin, a plaintiff and former UR professor said in a release from the plaintiff’s lawyers.
A joint statement released Friday from UR and the plaintiffs pointed to the impacts of the plaintiffs’ actions.
In a Twitter thread, plaintiff and former UR professor Jessica Cantlon wrote that the lawsuit helped pass New York workplace harassment laws, caused changes in UR policy, and set legal precedent for how similar cases should be handled in court.
The last point referred to a ruling in August in which a federal judge denied UR’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The ruling did not confirm the veracity of any allegations, but it declared that nearly all of the retaliation and defamation claims described illegal behavior.
“Since the claims were filed, the University has taken a number of important steps, including establishing an Office of Equity and Inclusion, strengthening policies, clarifying processes, and expanding training and resources to prevent and address sexual misconduct,” read a statement from UR Communications.
In the same statement, UR Communications wrote that nobody involved admitted any wrongdoing, and that UR chose to settle in part because their insurance paid the $9.4 million.
In Cantlon’s Twitter thread, she wrote about the importance of the settlement’s financial aspect. “The settlement of $9.4 million is significant which affects the *calculus* of university legal offices when they are weighing ‘risk’ of silencing victims versus punishing perpetrators.”
Senior staff member Lumi Schilkraut contributed reporting.