HigherEdMorning.comSexual harassment charge targets 79-year-old prof

Sexual harassment charge targets 79-year-old prof

August 17, 2010 by Taylor Hannigan
Posted in: From the Courts, In this week's e-newsletter, Latest News & Views

A court threw out a student’s sexual harassment claim against a professor – but you may be shocked to learn why.

Soon after enrolling as a freshman at Southern Illinois University in August 2007, Samuel Milligan got an on-campus job as a student worker in chemistry department stockrooms. The office of 79-year-old emeritus professor Cal Meyers was across the hall.

Milligan said Myers told him he would “make a very sexy lady.” He also accused Meyers of grabbing his buttocks and telling him that he “would surely date him” if he were a lady.

Milligan sued the school’s board of trustees, claiming they were responsible for the sexual harassment. But he lost.

The court said Milligan failed to show that Meyers’ alleged harassment of him was because of his sex. Instead, it reasoned that the school was off the hook because Meyers was an equal opportunity harasser: i.e., he also harassed females so “did not create any adverse condition for one gender over another.”

Even if the alleged harassment was because of sex, Milligan’s claim failed because it wasn’t sufficiently severe or pervasive, the court said.

Cite: Milligan v. Board of Trustees.

Do you agree with the ruling? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

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