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UC Berkeley Buries Harassment: Colleagues Force Professor Out

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

Astronomer Geoffrey Marcy, a leader in the search for life on other planets, resigned last week from the University of California, Berkeley, following an investigation into sexual harassment allegations. However, he was not asked to resign by the University. Far from it. The University had conducted a six-month investigation of Marcy’s conduct and determined that Marcy had routinely violated the University’s sexual harassment policies over a 10 year period. Marcy was found to have engaged in unwelcome kissing, groping, and massages of at least 4 students over the years. The University wanted to keep it quiet. After wrapping up the investigation in June, rather than discipline Marcy, the University told him to be on his best behavior or he might be disciplined in the future.

After learning of the findings months later, faculty at Berkeley were concerned that the University was sending a message that there were no consequences for such conduct and that the University’s handling of the situation would encourage rather than discourage similar behavior from others. 24 faculty members in the department of astronomy signed off on a letter saying they did not believe Marcy could continue to perform his job as a faculty member. A couple of days later, Marcy resigned. Marcy was the head of a $100 million dollar project searching for evidence of life on other planets and was considered a possible candidate for the Nobel Prize.

Does UC Berkeley Astronomer Marcy’s Downfall Signal Shift in Attitudes Over Sexual Harassment?

Did UC Berkeley Turn a Blind Eye to Harassment?

Geoffrey Marcy’s Berkeley Astronomy Colleagues Call for His Dismissal

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Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

Jon Allison

Resistant To Retirement

Last week NPR ran a story titled “On Campus, Older Faculty Keep On Keepin’ On.”  If they have the option, many just aren’t ready to retire in their sixties.
Faculty who have achieved tenure cannot be terminated without cause and there is no mandatory retirement age.  One study found that sixty percent of faculty planned to work past age seventy and fifteen percent planned to work past age eighty.  Ninety percent of faculty who planned to work past the typical retirement age reported it was because they loved their jobs, while more than forty percent reported that one reason was concerns over financial security.  Currently, one third of faculty are age fifty-five and older compared to twenty percent of the rest of the workforce.
Universities don’t necessarily want tenured faculty hanging around so long.  When older faculty leave universities can replace them with cheaper, part-time and adjunct-instructors.  In fact, the percentage of faculty who are part time has climbed from twenty-two percent in 1969 to sixty-seven percent today.
Universities offer buyouts to encourage older faculty to leave, but often there is little interest.  Recently faculty at Hofstra University’s Law School were offered two years of salary to leave and no one accepted.  At Nebraska, only seventy-nine out of two hundred forty-five eligible faculty accepted a one year salary buyout in 2010.
The NPR story is here . . .

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Fired for Being HIV Positive

Jon Allison

According to a lawsuit filed earlier this month in the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, Zoo Printing terminated two of its employees from its Louisville facility for being HIV-positive in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to the suit, one plaintiff, who had been employed for approximately one month as a boxer, and who was able to perform all of the essential functions of his job, was terminated shortly after requesting a shift change so that he could make an appointment for HIV treatment. A second plaintiff, who worked in human resources, was terminated two weeks after submitting insurance paperwork which showed that he was undergoing HIV treatment. The second plaintiff had also recently complained that he was concerned that Zoo Printing was discriminating against individuals with disabilities following the termination of the first plaintiff.

Subway Restaurants is accused of having done the same thing at its location in Sheridan, Indiana. An HIV positive employee told his manager in confidence of his diagnosis. That manager passed the news up to her boss and, shortly after the disclosure, the employee was told that he was going to be let go because he was a liability to the company despite the fact that he was a good worker and capable of performing all of the essential functions of his job. A lawsuit challenging that termination is now pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

We’ll see how these two cases play out in court.

Zoo Printing (Louisville Printing Firm) and Subway Restaurants

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By The Numbers

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog
A number of technology companies have released their Equal Employment Opportunity reports (EEO-1 reports) for 2014 and what they show is that there remains a diversity issue.  Twitter, Microsoft and Google employ zero African-American women in executive and management level positions.  Facebook, Intel and Amazon employ one African-American female each in such positions.  Executive and management level positions are held by white men 65% of the time, white females 14% of the time, Asian males 13% of the time, Asian females 3% of the time, Hispanic males 2% of the time, Hispanic females and African-American males 1% of the time, and African-American females less than 1% of the time.   The statistics for all employees aren’t much better for many companies.  Twitter, for example, employs 0% African-American females and 1% African-American males and Hispanic males and females.  It employs 25% Asian males and 8% Asian females.  The Tech industry is aware of the issue and there are efforts being made to diversify.  Find more details by following this link.

 

With respect to the wage gap between men and women in the U.S., the state you live in makes a significant difference.  Louisiana currently has the largest gap where women are earning 65 cents for every dollar earned by men.  In Utah it’s 67 cents and in Wyoming 69 cents.  The District of Columbia has the lowest pay gap at 10% followed by New York at 13% and Maryland at 15%.  There are some congressional districts within the states with the lowest pay gap that have closed the gap entirely.  Overall, still a lot of work to do here as well.  See the state rankings here.

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Painfully Shaven

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

The Atlanta Police Department has a policy that requires all officers to be clean shaven.  Some on the force say they should be allowed an accommodation because of a condition called Folliculitis which results in painful bumps that can get puss filled and bleed.  One officer has been off work without pay for months for not complying with the policy.  He is not allowed to return to work, including to a desk job, unless he shaves.  He questions why the Police Department won’t accommodate someone with a medical condition, particularly when a doctor has advised that he not shave.  A beard does not impact his ability to do his job.  Furthermore, he believes interacting with the public with a clean-cut beard is preferable to doing so with a bumpy, puss filled and/or bloody face.  The officer has retained an attorney and is seeking to return to work.  Follow this link for more on this story.

Sexual Harassment Against Both Females And Males Results In Large Settlement

VXI Global Solutions, which provides call center services for large companies, agreed to pay $600,000, hire an equal employment opportunity consultant, and provide training to employees among other terms, to resolve a lawsuit filed in 2014 alleging widespread sexual harassment and retaliation against both female and male employees.  According to the lawsuit, both female and male employees were subject to sexual harassment by at least 13 supervisors.  The females were
subjected to touching and groping, propositions for sex and sexual comments by male supervisors.  Male employees were likewise subjected to groping, lap dances and propositions for sex.  This went on for over 5 years.  Complaints about the harassment were ignored.  A number of those who complained were eventually terminated.  That prompted the filing of the lawsuit. Additional information can be found here.

 

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