Ex-Law School Dean Forced From Position Sues Berkeley

(Photo: Berkley)

(Photo: Berkley)

After having resigned from his position as a result of pressure from sexual harassment allegations against him, the former dean of UC Berkeley's law school has sued the University of California, arguing in his request for an end to the proceedings — which could cost him his tenure — that he was the victim of racial discrimination.

Sujit Choudhry stepped down from his position as dean in March after being sued by his former assistant, who also sued the school at the same time. According to the lawsuit, Choudhry repeatedly hugged, kissed, and touched her between 2014 and 2015, adding that school officials had not acted to put an end to the harassment. She said that while she needed to take a stress-related leave, Choudhry continued to work at the school with "minimal consequences."

In 2015, the school determined that Choudhry had violated its sexual harassment policy. As a result, he had 10% of his pay taken away for one year, which caused his salary to drop from $415,000 to $373,500. He was also ordered to apologize to Tyann Sorrell, his former assistant, and to attend counseling at his own expense, writes Nanette Asimov for SFGate.

While Choudhry resigned from his position in March, he is still a tenured law professor. However, UC President Janet Napolitano requested that Berkeley officials ban him from campus through the end of last school year. In addition, UC Berkeley's Academic Senate has begun to take the necessary steps to determine whether or not to strip Choudhry of his tenure.

Recently filed by Choudhry in the US District Court in San Francisco, the lawsuit requests an injunction to stop any disciplinary proceedings, arguing that the university had already punished him. He added that "Napolitano and the university have made (him) a pariah" because of his "race, color and national origin." He is of Indian decent.

The suit goes on to say that despite Choudhry having tenure, the university has not yet assigned him any classes, which in turn could cause Choudhry to miss out on merit pay increases. Officials have threatened to ban him from campus and have "circulated statements suggesting that students should ‘protect themselves'" from the professor, reports Laura Bult for The New York Daily News.

Choudhry also claims that President Napolitano has said he will not be assigned any classes for the spring semester.

He argues that two white employees at the school received better treatment during their sexual harassment scandals. Former executive vice chancellor Graham Fleming is still a tenured professor at the school, while Geoffrey Marcy, an astronomy professor, ended up quitting last fall as a result of the pressure.

"By targeting Professor Choudhry, who is of South Asian descent and a non-U.S. citizen, the University hopes to deflect attention from its failure to meaningfully punish Caucasian faculty and administrators who were found to have committed appalling sexual misconduct, and from the fact that it deserted Ms. Sorrell," that lawsuit alleged.

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