·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

Lawsuits & Litigation

Duke University Sued for Violating Rights of Student Accused of Sexual Harassment

— March 2, 2022

Supervisors and other responsible department personnel who observe, are informed of, or reasonably suspect sexual harassment claims might be filed, should immediately report such incidents.

A Duke University student claimed that the school mishandled his case after he was accused of sexual assault. Even though both parties agreed that the sex was consensual, the female said that one act was not, an accusation the male student denied. The female student was initially interviewed by Associate Dean of Students and eventually decided not to pursue the charges. The case was later reopened by a disciplinary panel who found the male student guilty due to inconsistent testimony and his account did not match witness accounts. He was suspended for three semesters.  After an unsuccessful appeal, he filed a civil action claiming “irreparable damage” as a result of the guilty finding and suspension, including the fact that he was withdrawn from consideration for the Rhodes Scholarship.  

Title IX

Victims of sexual harassment should immediately contact a sexual harassment attorney in North Carolina for guidance on necessary actions to hold those accountable for sexual misconduct and possibly gain access to necessary damage compensation. Title IX, which handles sexual misconduct on campus, should legally protect victims from harassment. If there is some reason that a victim is not protected under Title IX language, a sexual harassment attorney in Durham may be able to offer alternate means of resolution to victims.  

Victims underreport sex-based harassment

According to an EEOC task force report, victims of sex-based harassment often deny, or tone down an egregious situation to avoid, or ignore the negative behavior.  Talk to sexual harassment attorneys regarding concerns that the conduct on a university campus may be negatively impacting an individual’s educational activities.   The victim should directly inform the harasser that their conduct is unwelcome and insist that it stops if they are not fearful of bodily harm. Educational institutional policies should be referenced and a victim should use any complaint mechanism, or grievance system available. A positive settlement award may be the result of a strong case presented by seasoned attorneys, and in some cases, criminal charges may be necessary.

University awareness

A sexual harassment law firm can explain tips toward prevention, as it is the best tool to eliminate sexual harassment in learning institutions. University employers are encouraged to take steps necessary to prevent sexual harassment from occurring. They should clearly communicate to employees and students that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. They can do so by providing sexual harassment training to their employees and students and by establishing an effective complaint, or grievance process and taking immediate and appropriate action when an employee, or student complains. Sexual harassment lawyers can assist human resource departments as they develop and maintain standard operating work policies to support methods that deter sexual harassment in an higher education setting.  


Image of a sad boy
Sad Boy; image courtesy of Myriams-Fotos via Pixabay,

Supervisors and other responsible department personnel who observe, are informed of, or reasonably suspect sexual harassment claims might be filed, should immediately report such incidents and initiate prompt investigation. Supervisors should take effective measures to ensure no further apparent, or alleged harassment of the victim occurs, pending completion of an EEOC investigation, or other legal action. University administration should attempt to maintain privacy of the alleged victim and harasser while a complaint is being investigated.  Necessary steps should also be taken to ensure that the victim is protected from sexual harassment retaliation for reporting in compliance with federal laws.  

Hire a lawyer

If you, or someone you know is a victim of sexual harassment, or related sexual assault, seek out an experienced lawyer for guidance toward legal actions that will remedy the situation.



Join the conversation!