Assistant Professor of Finance and Economics at Columbia University Suffers from Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination.

New York – Columbia University was slammed with a lawsuit from Enrichetta Ravina, assistant finance and economics professor in the Columbia Business School, regarding the sexual harassment and gender discrimination she faced during her employment and preparations to apply for tenure at the University.

In 2008, Enrichetta began her career at Columbia University in Columbia’s Business School. She later started her research that determined the way retirement savings are budgeted. She also tracked financial decisions of personal households through scrutinizing relevant data sets. The researched was structured to further her intelligence and aid her tenure application. During the 2009-2010 academic term, Enrichetta Ravina teamed up with Geert Bekaert, an economics and finance professor at Columbia University since 2000, who offered to help increase her knowledge with her research. Geert Bekaert informed Enrichetta Ravina that he had access to an inestimable collection of data. Data of that status could take her research to the next level. Geert Bekaert maintained a valuable relationship with the owner of the data she needed for her research.
Enrichetta accepted the offer to be assisted with her research. She understood that the owner could revoke her contract at any given time, and Geert Bekaert possessed the power to influence their decision to do so, if anything were to go wrong. After two years of thorough and diligent research, Enrichetta Ravina made excellent progress with her research. Losing access to the information would annihilate her chances of presenting the best research in her tenure application. Enrichetta Ravina believed “scholarship” was the way to earn her tenure. At the crossroad between having all the information she needs, and losing everything she worked for, Enrichetta Ravina became vulnerable to sexual harassment.

Vulnerability led to Sexual Harassment

After Enrichetta Ravina entered a state of vulnerability, she claimed the sexual advances began and he verbally expressed his thoughts of her being “sexy.” Enrichetta Ravina said Geert Bekaert “told her about watching pornography and his sexual exploits.” Enrichetta Ravina experienced some serious discomfort as a result of Geert Bekaert alleged actions. In order to resolve her issue, Enrichetta would have to put the vital information of her research at risk. Based on the lawsuit, Enrichetta Ravina rejected Geert Bekaert’s sexual advances. The rejection allegedly stirred up some retaliation, which caused Geert Bekaert to hinder Enrichetta Ravina’s progress with her research. Stuck between a rock and a hard place is an understatement in terms of what Enrichetta Ravina was experiencing,
In May 2014, Enrichetta Ravina claims she brought her complaints and concerns to the officials at Columbia University. According to the lawsuit, the retorts of the some officials were not supportive of Enrichetta Ravina’s complaints. It appears that an unidentified Dean viewed Enrichetta’s troubles as a “soap opera.” The other unrevealed individuals who responded to Enrichetta Ravina’s discomfort attempted to persuade her to abandon all of her research and drop her complaints of sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

Title IX Protects Individuals from Sex Discrimination

The Education Amendments of 1972 includes Title IX. Title IX states, No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. According to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) from The U.S. Department of Education, Title IX is enforced in U.S. academic environments, institutions, or programs that accepts Federal financial assistance. The OCR assures that academic institutions like Columbia University comply with the law. In the event that allegations of sex discrimination hits the surface, the OCR will “evaluate, investigate, and resolve” the matter at hand.
In November 2014, there were no violations of Title IX found regarding Enrichetta Ravina complaints according to the office responsible for monitoring Columbia University’s compliance with the law. The discourteous response of a few Columbia officials does not define the character of the entire staff. However, the lack of support led Enrichetta Ravina to file a lawsuit in Federal District court against Columbia University. In the lawsuit, Enrichetta Ravina is requesting S20 million in personal damages and additional time for her tenure application.
Columbia University takes pride in “Sexual Respect.” Sexual and gender based misconduct is does not go without notice. This value applies to all members of Columbia University’s Community. After several attempt to resolve her complaints, Enrichetta Ravina said the Columbia officials “dismissed and belittled her.” Puzzling to most, the alleged actions of the officials do not reflect the “sexual respect” Columbia University upholds. Recently Enrichetta Ravina stated, “I never really wanted to be in this position, but this was the only thing I could do.” She also expressed the effect the University had on her by stating, “I felt really betrayed. I thought the university should have solved this.”

What happened the to the process of the Tenure Application?

The following June, Enrichetta Ravina was informed by Columbia University officials that for the academic year of 2015-2016, she would be place on paid academic leave. During this time period, all activity in regards to the process of Enrichetta Ravina’s tenure application would be placed on hold according to the lawsuit. As the academic year of 2015-2016 began, the paid academic leave was removed. Enrichetta Ravina was notified that her tenure process would begin to “run on an accelerated basis” in December.

Enrichetta Ravina files a separate Lawsuit against Professor Geert Bekaert

Geert Bekaert allegedly played a key role in the severe emotional distress and damage to Enrichetta Ravina’s career and personal life at Columbia University. She has been seeing a psychiatrist on throughout the past two year who identified Enrichetta Ravina’s “general anxiety disorder.” Geer Bekaert opposes to the claims and allegations brought against him. He added that the university investigated the claims and they were labeled as “baseless.” Geert Bekaert’s defensive response email stated, “I am sickened that a colleague¬¬¬¬ — I was never Prof. Ravina’s supervisor or superior — would manufacture false stories, statements and events and attempt to run my reputation.”
Professor Geert Bekaert acknowledged the collaborative research he did with Enrichetta Ravina using the exclusive collection of data he was given access to by the data’s owner. In the eyes of Geert Bekaert, he believes he did a “good deed” by helping Enrichetta Ravina with her research, and in exchange she created “a series of false allegations.” The awful stories between Enrichetta Ravina and Geert Bekaert do not add up. Presently, Geert Bekaert takes no ownership of the allegations. Enrichetta Ravina wants justice, so she filed a separate lawsuit again Geert Bekaert. Additional details regarding this separate case have yet to be released.

Cases resembling Enrichetta Ravina’s occur frequently. If you have been a victim of sexual harassment or gender discrimination contact our New York City, Miami, New Jersey, or Philadelphia, call us at 800-807-2209 for a free consultation to discuss your possible claim. Our attorneys are available to review your claims and prepare a solid case to recover the damages and justice you deserved.

About Derek Smith

Attorney Derek T. Smith is an experienced sexual harassment & discrimination law litigator who has particular experience in the areas of workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination, civil rights litigation, employment law and civil litigation.

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