Inconsistencies have surfaced in the way the California State University investigates and resolves sexual harassment cases at its more than 20 campuses. As a result, state lawmakers have requested an independent audit in how the university system deals with such cases.
These findings were disclosed in a recent story from the Los Angeles Times, which reviewed cases involving four high-ranking men at California State University campuses. Three of the four were vice presidents of student affairs.
Outside firm will review
In two of the cases, the misconduct was severe. One school allowed the administrator to retire with a lucrative payment and letter of recommendation. The other university administrator was allowed to resign, and receive a negotiated payout as well as extensive paid time off.
University officials noted that they have a detailed sexual harassment policy in place but admit not providing additional direction in critical matters such as opening investigations or disciplinary actions if the accusations are proven.
As a result, the university system has hired an outside firm to review how its campuses deal with sexual and gender harassment. In the past three years, California State University has paid close to $7 million in cases stemming from sexual harassment and retaliation.
What to do if you are a victim
If you are the victim of sexual harassment or bullying in the workplace, protect yourself by doing the following things:
- Keep a journal detailing every incident: This provides personal accounts of the harassment. Include dates, times, what occurred and the names of any witnesses. Do not do this on your work computer. Record this information in a notebook that you have brought or your home computer.
- Save all communiques: This includes any dubious emails, texts, notes, voicemails as well as social media posts.
- Know your workplace’s sexual harassment policies: Review the employee handbook and understand how the company addresses this issue.
- Report the incidents: Go to your manager or your manager’s supervisor. However, if your manager is the offender, reach out to human resources. If it is a criminal incident, contact police.
It is important to protect yourself at every step. Federal law is on your side.
Ensuring a consistent process
The inconsistencies as to how the California State University system addresses sexual harassment cases exemplify the need for clearer direction. Such an approach would ensure a more consistent and fair process providing some reassurance to victims.