UR and two of its top administrators are being sued in federal court.
The professors and students who spurred campus activism in September over the University’s handling of sexual harassment complaints filed a civil suit on Friday against UR, University President Joel Seligman, and Provost Robert Clark.
The 192-page lawsuit alleges 17 total counts of civil rights violations, breaches of contract, and defamation.
“We regret we are being forced to file this suit,” the complainants said in a statement released Friday. “However, because UR has refused to resolve our complaint, or even speak to us about it, we now must proceed to court or lose our rights forever to seek the law’s protections.”
In an email, a University spokesperson said the suit’s filing was not unexpected, but declined to comment further.
“We will not comment on any matter that we have not had a chance to review, and we currently plan to withhold comment until the completion of the independent investigation commissioned by a special committee of the University of Rochester’s Board of Trustees,” the spokesperson, Sara Miller, said.
Read the suit here.
The lawsuit comes after a fall semester that saw campus outrage over a 111-page legal complaint filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and first reported in Mother Jones.
That complaint detailed how UR, through two investigations, left Professor T. Florian Jaeger untouched after he was accused by Celeste Kidd — another professor and former graduate student under Jaeger — of years of sexual harassment. According to the document, which was submitted by seven current and former professors and a former graduate student, Kidd was one of 17 professors and students to complain about Jaeger’s behavior. The complaint primarily argued that UR retaliated against the employees who had come forward about Jaeger’s alleged harassment.
Jaeger has been on leave for most of the fall semester. A Board of Trustees–commissioned investigation of the situation is slated to release its findings in January.
Further updates based on the new suit may come.
Editor’s Note (12/22/19): A sentence saying that, according to the EEOC complaint, Kidd’s account of harassment was supported by seven professors and 11 students was changed to reflect that Kidd was one of those professors and one of those students. The sentence was also changed to reflect that, according to the complaint, not all of the individuals necessarily supported Kidd’s account of her own experience, but complained about Jaeger’s behavior as they experienced it.