A woman who sued the University of California and the former dean of UC Berkeley’s law school for sexual harassment is outraged that the school is allowing him to keep his tenured professorship, she announced Saturday.
“This deal insults all who suffer harassment at the hands of those with power and privilege,” Tyann Sorrell said in a statement.
Sorrell was executive assistant to Sujit Choudhry in 2015 when she accused him of kissing and hugging her. The school substantiated the allegations and gave Choudhry a temporary 10 percent pay cut. He resigned as dean and stopped teaching classes but remained a professor.
Under a “privilege and tenure” decision announced Friday, Choudhry will be considered a tenured faculty member on sabbatical until May 31, 2018, when he’ll officially resign. He’ll be able to keep benefits such as travel expenses and research funding.
The school also will withdraw all disciplinary complaints against him, and will not be able to say he acted with sexual intent or posed a risk to faculty, students or staff.
“This is just one more example of UC refusing to take sexual harassment seriously and once again offering a soft landing even after a finding of harassment,” Sorrell’s attorney, Leslie F. Levy, said Saturday.
Sorrell sued the University of California regents and Choudhry over the harassment last year.
A settlement was reached on March 31 but the school didn’t announce the agreement until late Friday before the Easter holiday weekend and school officials said they would not answer further questions.
Details of the settlement with the university weren’t disclosed but Choudhry agreed to donate $50,000 to nonprofit organizations of Sorrell’s choice that deal with sexual harassment and sexual abuse, her attorney said.
He also will pay $50,000 of her legal fees.
Choudhry, who is South Asian, also sued the University of California, alleging that the university had racially discriminated against him in its disciplinary proceedings and attempted to deprive him of his reputation and career.
Choudhry alleged the university opened a second investigation of him for the same conduct after Sorrell filed her lawsuit and reports it had mishandled cases of serious sexual misconduct.
However, Choudhry dropped the lawsuit last year.
“All related litigation has now been dismissed,” the university said in a statement.
Choudhry is among several UC Berkeley employees since 2015 to face sexual harassment allegations substantiated by UC Berkeley’s Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination.
Note: Presumably, the plaintiff could have rejected the settlement and gone to court with the case but didn't. It now seems likely that any further action is precluded by the acceptance of the deal. Probably, the terms of the deal will be discussed in closed session at the May Regents meeting.
UPDATE on settlement: UC-Berkeley has agreed to pay $1.7 million to the woman who accused its former law school dean of sexual harassment. According a copy of UC-Berkeley’s agreement with Tyann Sorrell, who was executive assistant to Sujit Choudhry when he was dean of the law school, the settlement is to be paid out through an initial lump sum payment of $600,000 to Sorrell and her attorney, Leslie Levy of Levy Vinick Burrell Hyams. Sorrell will receive another $250,000 up front, and receive the rest in monthly payments of $8,048 stretching over 10 years—starting June 1, 2018 and terminating in May 1, 2028. The settlement agreement, which resolves claims alleging the university retaliated against Sorrell and failed to intervene when she reported the alleged harassment, was obtained from UC-Berkeley through a public records request...