UC spent more than $3.7M on sexual harassment settlements, new data shows

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The University of California system spent more than $3.7 million on sexual harassment payouts during the past three years, as first reported by the Sacramento Bee.

A previous article from The Daily Californian reported that the total cost of sexual harassment settlements was estimated to be closer to $3.4 million. At the time, however, the UC system had not released its 2016-2017 harassment data, according to the Sacramento Bee’s article.

Records released to The Daily Californian by the Office of Public Records in the UC Office the President, or UCOP, said the amount paid out in the 2016-2017 year was at least $298,500. This is only an estimate, however, as cases involving student privacy concerns or ongoing investigations cannot be released to the press, according to UCOP Office of Public Records official Dan Scannell.

During the three years in which the data was collected, the UC system attempted to revamp its policies governing sexual harassment, violence and assault, according to UCOP spokesperson Claire Doan. She added that this included systemwide education and training and the hiring of Title IX staff at each campus.

“Many employers don’t even have independent offices dedicated to preventing and responding to sexual harassment and discrimination,” Doan said in an email.

For lawyer Leslie Levy, however, these changes are not enough to stop the sexual harassment incidents reported across the UC system. Levy represented Tyann Sorrell when she sued former UC Berkeley School of Law dean Sujit Choudhry for sexual harassment in 2016 — a case that was settled for $1.7 million.

“My understanding is that the changes in the policy in that (case) … were not developed with significant involvement with women who were victims of sexual harassment,” Levy said. “And I hope that they’re successful in protecting women who come forward, but they have to both address the harassment timely and fairly, as well as any potential retaliation against the the women who reported.”

Contact Alexandra Stassinopoulos at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @AE_Stass.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Tyann Sorrell sued former UC Berkeley School of Law Dean Sujit Choudhry in 2017. In fact, she sued him in 2016.