California Sexual Harassment Cases Plague El Camino College

March 22, 2012, by Okorie Okorocha

Controversy is becoming El Camino College's middle name, following its recent settlement of a second California sexual harassment case and its fourth that has been filed within a year. eyes.jpg

Our El Camino sexual harassment attorneys know that one case is often enough to tarnish the reputation of an esteemed university. Four seemingly signals an epidemic.

In fairness, two of those cases resulted in victories for the university when they went to trial. The other two, however, have been settled by the university for between $750,000 and $2.5 million.

Both of the latter cases, according to The Contra Costa Times, reportedly involved the same, 75-year-old individual.

Sexual harassment in a California workplace is a form of discrimination under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. It's also illegal under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and retaliating against someone for refusing to submit to sexual advances in the workplace is also illegal.

Some of the quid-pro-quo situations are fairly straightforward, i.e., "Sleep with me or I'll fire you." Other situations, though, are more nuanced. For example, you file a complaint about harassment and you subsequently are forced to take an unexplained leave of absence, although the person you accused continues to work. Retaliation can also take the form of reassignment or demotion.

In the El Camino College cases, the violations appear to be quite blatant.

In the most recently-settled case, a 53-year-old administrative assistant filed a complaint that for six years, between 2004 and 2010, the ex-vice president and dean of the school started at her chest, touched, kissed and groped her and demanded she have sex with him or face a poor job evaluation or even firing. When she refused his overtures, he reportedly responded by yelling at her, taking work away from her and criticizing her work.

She was awarded $750,000.

Another woman, who has since left her position as a secretary at the school, also alleged extreme harassment at the hands of the same individual. The details of her case were even more alarming. According to her, the administrator raped her in his locked office, and offered her hundreds of dollars for sex. She was ultimately awarded $2.5 million.

The administrator in the case, who no longer works for the university, flatly denied the claims, saying the he did have a sexual relationship with his 34-year-old secretary, but it was consensual. At the time of his retirement in 2010, he had been at the school since 1975, and was earning a yearly salary of more than $140,000. He was even inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame.

Given his clout within the college, it's easy to understand why two subordinates would believe him when he reportedly said he was in good with the union president, so it would be pointless to utter a word of any of it to anyone.

The two other cases that went to trial involve a discrimination case by a former female dean who alleged she was a victim of the school's "good old boys" club that stunted her career advancement and a professor who said she was pushed out for taking too many days off following a sexual assault she said was perpetrated on her by a former dean several years ago.

If you or someone you love has been the victim of sexual harassment in Orange County or in any of the surrounding areas, it is critical for you to contact an Orange County Sexual Harassment attorney. Contact the California Legal Team at (800) 285-1763 to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
El Camino College settles 2nd sexual harassment suit against former dean, By Rob Kuznia, The Contra Costa Times

More Blog Entries:
Orange County Sexual Harassment Victims Can Sue Schools: C.A. v. William S. Hart Union High School District, March 13, 2012, Orange County Sexual Harassment Lawyer Blog