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Once again, UC Berkeley spotlighted in employment harassment suit

What a UC Berkeley honors graduate who came back to her alma mater last summer to work with a described "world-renowned professor of philosophy" as his assistant prior to embarking on a graduate program reasonably expected was s singular opportunity to grow in her chosen field.

What she nearly immediately experienced instead, as related in litigation she recently filed against the university, was "shock, fear, confusion and horror."

Being summarily groped and fondled will logically induce such emotions in any person who was expecting a decidedly different type of interaction with a respected mentor and professional colleague.

The woman's lawsuit, which was filed in Alameda County Superior Court late last month, targets both the long-tenured professor (now in emeritus status and not actively teaching) and school regents.

Its allegations are multiple and varied, with a university press report noting that damages are being sought for "sexual harassment, having a hostile work environment, retaliation, wrongful termination and assault and battery."

The 24-year-old woman says that the professor, a fixture at Berkeley since 1959, told her that they "were going to be lovers" and that he intended to make her "a public intellectual."

The plaintiff states that the professor acted as though nothing untoward had happened in the encounter's wake. He ultimately cut her pay in half, and the university terminated her a couple of months into her employment.

The woman stated that she reported the matter at least twice to the director of the department, who reportedly did not take any formal action out of a motivation to "protect" the professor.

Berkeley's problematic involvement in other harassment and assault cases is both protracted and well documented. The above-cited news report notes that the woman's claim is merely "one of many that have been made against UC Berkeley professors and officials in recent years."

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