·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

Featured Article

School Official Delivered Degree Decades After Sexual Harassment at Michigan University

— December 8, 2021

Sexual harassment claims are only valid if the sexual behavior exhibited is unwelcome, and it can affect both men and women in the workplace, or educational setting.

A Michigan State University official personally delivered a doctorate degree to a New Jersey man in 2019, decades after he and his wife were sexually harassed by a professor when they were students, leading to cessation of his pursuit of an advanced degree in history to protest the negative behavior. The victim claims the harasser would regularly talk to him about sex in the late 1970s and early ’80s, in addition to propositioning his wife for sex. She received $25,000 from Michigan State. The Lansing State Journal says a 2019 investigation by Michigan State found that the professor had violated the university’s sexual misconduct policy. The sexual harassment encounters that these two individuals were subject to probably did not carry the same weight as a complaint does today.  Since these encounters happened in the 70s and 80s, it was pretty close to the time that the sexual harassment label was introduced to be taken seriously.  Individuals who are sexually harassed should contact a Michigan sexual harassment attorney to see if they can access damage compensation.  

Department of Civil Rights

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) reminds residents that sexual harassment may constitute illegal discrimination and victims of these acts have the right to file a complaint with the department. Under Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) and other state and federal laws, sexual harassment constitutes illegal discrimination. To file a complaint of discrimination under ELCRA, the harassment must have occurred within the last 180 days and be related to employment, education, housing, public accommodation/public service, or law enforcement. If the alleged sexual harassment meets these parameters, MDCR will take the complaint and conduct a thorough and impartial investigation.

Sexual harassment venue

Sexual harassment can occur at work, at school, at church, and any place where there is interaction between human beings, but harassment in the workplace is a form of employment discrimination and a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the American Disabilities Act of 1990, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. Sexual discrimination is when someone is discriminated against for being male or female, and for being pregnant, with regard to work environment, gaining promotions, crossing the gender salary gap and reductions of benefits based on gender. The discriminators in these cases are usually teachers, professors, priests, managers, bosses, and supervisors in places of employment, although sometimes co-workers discriminate as well. Talk to legal counsel about your concerns and actions to take against sexual harassment.

Image by Mohamed_Hassan, via
Image by Mohamed_Hassan, via

Identify sexual harassment

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment, when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, or education and unreasonably interferes with an individual’s performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment. 

Valid claims

Sexual harassment claims are only valid if the sexual behavior exhibited is unwelcome, and it can affect both men and women in the workplace, or educational setting, without relevance to positions held at the specific venue. Sexual harassment is illegal when it is so frequent, or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive environment, or when it results in an adverse decisions. The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, instructor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, a visitor to the business or university, such as a client or customer.  

Legal recourse

Victims of sexual harassment have legal options against sexual harassment, and seeking legal counsel is the first thing a victim  should do after reporting the abuse through the proper channels at a place of employment, or at school, or wherever the incident took place; if there are procedural guidelines set up that must be followed.


Join the conversation!