UC Berkeley Settles Law Dean Sexual Harassment Allegations Lawsuit

April 17, 2017

A legal settlement has been reached between the University of California, Berkeley, the former dean of its law school, and his former assistant, who said he sexually harassed her.

The settlement between the school, former dean Sujit Choudhry and the assistant Tyann Sorrell was signed March 31, but not announced until late Friday before the holiday weekend and school officials said they would not answer further questions.

Sorrell had sued her former boss and the university over the harassment allegations. Choudry in turn had sued the school for singling him out for additional investigation as the school looked into several cases of sexual harassment.

Under the terms of the settlement, Choudry will give $50,000 to a charity of Sorrell’s choice and pay another $50,000 to her lawyers.

Choudry in turn will be considered a tenured faculty member on sabbatical until May 31, 2018, when he’ll officially resign. That means he’ll be able to keep benefits like travel expenses and research funding. The school 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.

“All related litigation has now been dismissed,” the university said in a statement.

Sorrell said in a statement that she appreciates the steps the university has taken on sexual harassment, and is pleased the school is reviewing all of its polices on the issue.

Choudry’s lawsuit, filed in September, accused school officials of singling him out because of his race for a second investigation of sexual harassment allegations at a school that was embroiled in several sexual harassment probes involving faculty and leaders.

Choudhry, who is South Asian, resigned amid faculty outrage that he had been allowed to remain in his position after a campus investigation substantiated sexual harassment allegations against Sorrell.

In her lawsuit, Sorrell, alleged that her boss kissed, hugged and touched her repeatedly but was punished only with a temporary pay cut and orders to undergo counseling following a campus investigation.

Choudhry alleged the University of California 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.

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.

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