On January 2, 2020, Schwartz Perry & Heller received a decision from the Eastern District of New York denying a motion to dismiss our client’s case, Mosier v. State University of New York, 18 CV 06539. In this Title IX case, our client, a student at Stony Brook University, was degradingly sexually harassed by her professor, which included being subjected to appalling statements in class such as, “You will only get positions in life if you use your body,” “It’s not your fault you are a woman and can’t help yourself but be wrong” and “Women have no right being in the workplace.” When the student complained about this sexual harassment, the Chair of the Department responded, “I don’t mean to sound cynical, but what did [the professor] do now?” and referenced other complaints.
Following the student’s complaint, the University shut out the student, refusing to tell her the status of its investigation, delaying the investigation for months without explanation and permitting the professor to continue to control her education. Meanwhile, the student’s educational environment deteriorated, as she suffered panic attacks and her GPA dropped. Schwartz Perry & Heller started a lawsuit on her behalf.
The University moved to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that because it substantiated the student’s complaint, it should be relieved of all responsibility. The Court forcefully rejected this argument, holding that the evidence of other complaints, as well as the school’s refusal to provide a response to her complaint, did not absolve the school of liability.
This case stands for the right of students to not only be free from sexual harassment in the classroom, but to have their complaints be taken seriously. We hope that this case ensures that educational institutions will do a better job of protecting future students from discrimination, and responding more effectively to their complaints.