Tyann Sorrell receives $1.7M from UC in landmark sexual harassment settlement

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Tyann Sorrell received $1.7 million from the University of California to settle her sexual harassment lawsuit — a landmark payment that could be one of the largest Title IX settlements in UC history.

The settlement, obtained by The Daily Californian through a California Public Records Act request, states that the UC Board of Regents will pay $600,000 to Sorrell’s attorney, Leslie Levy, and a lump sum of $250,000 to Sorrell. Sorrell will also receive $8,048 from the regents monthly over the next 10 years — for a total of $850,000, including fees.

Sorrell, who accused former UC Berkeley School of Law dean Sujit Choudhry of sexually harassing her while she worked as his executive assistant, settled her lawsuit with the UC Board of Regents last month. The suit had alleged that the regents failed to take proper steps to prevent sexual harassment. The UC settlement states that the regents deny and dispute Sorrell’s allegations.

“In order to avoid the substantial expense and inconvenience of further litigation, the parties now desire to fully and finally settle all claims on the terms set forth in this AGREEMENT,” the settlement states.

As per the settlement, the regents will also appoint Sorrell to sit on the Berkeley School of Law’s Faculty-Staff Climate Committee. Additionally, the regents will forgive the student housing debt of about $12,000 that Sorrell’s husband owes.

UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof declined to comment on whether the $1.7 million being paid to Sorrell was the largest cash settlement for a sexual harassment case in UC history.

“(We) dont have the wherewithal today to comb through data on the legal settlements the UC has been involved in over the course of time,” Mogulof said in an email.

The settlement includes a confidentiality provision that prevents the parties from voluntarily sharing the agreement unless they are legally compelled to do so through a California Public Records Act request or a subpoena, or if the the UC Board of Regents determines the disclosure is necessary to defend itself in a judicial or administrative proceeding.  

A UC spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment on the settlement.

The settlement comes several months after the university settled a UC Santa Cruz sexual assault case for $1.15 million, thought to be the largest awarded to an individual in a campus sexual assault case. In the suit, student Luz Portillo alleged that assistant professor Hector Perla had raped her, and he was later found by a Title IX investigation to have violated UC sexual misconduct policy.

The UC Board of Regents arrived at a separate settlement directly with Choudhry in order to avoid tenure proceedings against Choudhry, announced in a press release sent from the UC Office of the President on Friday. The settlement allows for the UC regents to terminate the disciplinary process and withdraw all pending charges against Choudhry.

Levy said she was unable to comment on the terms of Sorrell’s settlement with the regents but added that the settlement reached between the regents and Choudhry does not demonstrate a shift in how the university handles sexual harassment cases.

“To the extent that she believed that the university has changed its approach to dealing with sexual harassment, the release negotiated with Choudhry shows that not much has changed,” Levy said.  

Levy added that additional actions still must be taken in order to prevent sexual harassment on college campuses.

“This has been a long and a hard road,” Levy said. “She is eager to move forward and intends to continue to involve herself with this issue. Although there has been some progress on dealing with sexual harassment on campuses, there is still a ways to go, and she thanks everybody who’s working on it.”

Check back for updates.

Senior staff writer Pressly Pratt contributed to this report.

Contact Andrea Platten, Jessica Lynn and Cassandra Vogel at [email protected].

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Tyann Sorrell reached a settlement with Choudhry that allows for the UC Board of Regents to terminate the disciplinary process and withdraw all pending charges against Choudhry. In fact, the regents reached this settlement with Choudhry.