Ongoing Sexual Harassment in U.C. Berkeley’s School of Law Results in a Lawsuit

California – Sujit Choudhry, a trusted dean of law at The University of California at Berkeley resigned after a lawsuit accused him of inappropriately sexually harassing his executive assistant, Tyann Sorrell, flooded the media.
The dean of law, Sujit Choudhry, executive assistant (Tyann Sorrell) recently sued him for the alleged “sexual advances” he made towards her starting in September 2014 through March 2015. The lawsuit holds both the University of California Board of Reagents and Sujit Choudhry responsible for the “sexual harassment, workplace retaliation, infliction of emotional distress, lack of sexual harassment prevention, and assault and battery” she faced during her employment.
Although Berkeley Law is one of the most prestigious law schools ranking number 8 on the U.S News & World Report list, The University of California at Berkeley have had numerous historical sexual harassment incidents occur in the past with a former professional in a leadership position. It is very unfortunate that the officials have not enforced any intense rules of conduct to ensure that rising incidents involving sexual harassment will come to a halt.
The lawsuit states that during Tyann Sorrell’s troubling experience, she suffered from unwanted physical contact including “kisses on her cheek, rubbing on her arms and shoulders, and extremely close “bear” like hugs, and inappropriate body contact. After months of sustaining sexual harassment to maintain her job, Tyann Sorrell risked her job and workplace reputation to voice her intolerable predicament to her supervisors, who fell short of taking commendable action against Sujit Choudhry. Instead, they attempted to retaliate against Tyann Sorrell as if the sexual harassment had not caused enough emotional stress for the 41-year-old mother of five. Court documents state that Tyann Sorrell also sent an email of six pages to Sujit Choudhry and Human Resources to address the “violation and humiliation” she felt from Sujit Choudhry’s continuous unlawful actions that were documented and released to the office of Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination at U.C. Berkeley.

A U.C. Top Executive Responds to the Dean of Law’s Lawsuit

Claude Steele, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost of the University, initially announced that in addition to an “indefinite leave of absence,” Sujit Choudhry would be demoted to his faculty’s level and receiving a 10% dock in pay. He also stated that the University would be provided with a temporary dean to fill Sujit Choudhry’s former position until further notice.
According to Steele, a meticulous investigation confirmed that Sujit Choudhry was found at fault for violating the University’s policy. Sujit Choudhry also neglected the impact his actions would have on his executive assistant his career, and the University’s reputation. In a justified society, an individual who commits sexual harassment to the extent of Sujit Choudhry degree would have been terminated immediately. Steele, on the other hand, originally preferred to incorporate strict discipline, monitor Sujit Choudhry actions, and send him to training in order to rectify his problems and encourage professional conduct improvement. Sujit Choudhry actions occurred through habit, which means a temporary solution may have calmed things down until the lawsuit reached a verdict. However, it could not definitively guarantee that sexual harassment would no longer occur should Sujit Choudhry remain employed at the University.

Berkeley Law strives for Better Judgment and Sexual Harassment Prevention.

Presently, Sujit Choudhry has resigned from his position at U.C. Berkeley Law School. The University placed themselves in a position to be “legitimately criticized” when they decided not to terminate Sujit’s Choudhry’s employment initially. Sujit eventually confessed to the allegations regarding the unwanted physical contact in the lawsuit and to other unidentified female employees. After a detailed conversation with the faculty of the law school, both Chancellor Dirks and Provost Steele understood that sexual harassment could no longer go unnoticed. They are currently unaware of how to resolve this issue, but they plan on seeking the wisdom and input of their campus community to help deliver the best solution.

Tyann Sorrell’s endures Side Effects of Sexual Harassment

Tyann Sorrell is currently on a paid leave of absence pending the outcome of the lawsuit. She has struggled with “insomnia, hair loss, and anxiety” since the sexual harassment took place. Whether or not she will return to her position at U.C. Berkeley’s Law School has yet to be determined. After months of dealing with sexual harassment in the work place, the fear of upsetting Sujit Choudhry and or losing her job, Sorrell knew that this issue could not be dealt with on the campus level. Sexual harassment policy changes desperately need to be implemented to protect employees in the workplace.
If you have ever experienced sexual harassment in the workplace or on a College/University campus, contact our top-rated sexual harassment lawyers 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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