Professors Sue College, Cite Discrimination

Professors Sue College, Cite Discrimination

Rosemary Boeglin and Julia Herbst

Assistant Professor of French and Cinema Studies Grace An filed a lawsuit against the College on March 5, claiming that the institution failed to address repeated instances of sex-based harassment by fellow French Department faculty member Professor Ali Yedes, who is also a member of the Comparative Literature Department. This is the second piece of litigation directed at the College concerning the conflict within the French department since 2006. In 2012, Yedes filed a suit against the College and former French department chair Matthew Senior, alleging that he was discriminated against based on his race, religion and national origin.

An, who has canceled the rest of her courses for the spring semester, is asking for compensatory relief in excess of $25,000 and a trial by jury. An claims that the College was either aware or should have been aware of Yedes’s inappropriate behavior as early as 2006, but that no “appropriate corrective action” was taken.

The details of the two lawsuits demonstrate the complexity and pervasiveness of long-term conflicts within the department and the extremity of the accusations, both of which center on violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Although the Review reached out to over a dozen individuals involved in this and related conflicts — including Professor of Arabic Samir Amin, who has filed separate complaints about Yedes with the College — involved professors, faculty and students have repeatedly expressed a desire to respect An’s privacy, given the sensitive and intensely personal nature of Yedes’s alleged actions.

Two court filings elucidate the circumstances surrounding the conflict, the details of which appear below. In the meantime, the ultimate litigious question remains whether the College was acting negligently or in disregard of An’s safety and terms of employment.