Sunday, March 16, 2008

Remembering The `Karibian vs. Columbia University Sexual Harassment Case'

Columbia University was able to get a jury to rule in favor of Columbia University in the “Karibian vs. Columbia University Sexual Harassment Case.” But this excerpt from the text of the June 28, 1996 court decision (930 F.Supp 134) reveals some interesting facts on how some Columbia University supervisors apparently treated their women employees, historically, in the late 1980s:

“Plaintiff Sharon Karibian brought suit against the alleged perpetrator, Mark Urban; against Columbia University, the former employer of Karibian and Urban; and against John Borden, a vice president at Columbia…

“Karibian claimed that Urban sexually harassed her by engaging in unwelcome sexual activities with Karibian and indicating to her that she would receive employment advantages if she submitted and disadvantages in her employment if she did not. Karibian claimed that she in fact was benefited in her employment while submitting to Urban’s sexual demands and suffered detriment after she discontinued the relationship. Karbian also claimed that Urban retaliated against her because she complained to Columbia…

“…Urban produced a lengthy written statement…The statement by no means admitted any coerced or harassing sexual activity or any pressure relating to the conditions of Karibian’s employment. The statement did, however, admit that Urban had pursued Karibian romantically, that a sexual relationship had ultimately developed, and that it extended, with some breaks, until the spring of 1989. The statement described other matters relating to Karibian, including the fact that Urban had helped Karibian obtain compensation for hours in September 1987 which Karibian had not actually worked.

“…After reviewing the statement, Borden and the other people at Columbia involved with this matter decided to ask Urban to resign. Borden felt that he had been misled by Urban on an earlier occasion about what was going on between him and Karibian, and Borden and the others took the view at this time that it was improper management on the part of Urban to develop a sexual relationship with his subordinate. Another factor influencing the Columbia people was Urban’s involvement in having Karibian paid for unworked hours…”

Next: Some Poems From the 1970s and 1980s


Anonymous said...

You're incorrect that Columbia won. Sharon won this case on appeal. I had the misfortune of dating Sharon for a short while and I can say that her claim is completely bogus. I am sure that she instigated the relationship and simply sought vindication when Urban ended the relationship. Sharon has a lot of mental issues, especially when dealing with relationships. She was known as the "black widow" for always wearing black and the way she tried to destroy her lovers.

b.f. said...

Thanks for letting readers know that Columbia University lost this case on appeal. Hope you've found more happiness in your later relationships.

Anonymous said...

It turns out that Sharon's winning verdict was set aside by the judge.

I was briefly with Sharon during the early stages of her lawsuit against Columbia. She insisted our dating had to be secret so that Columbia's attorneys couldn't use any of her behavior as promiscuous.

As interesting as her case sounds on the face, justice was served by having the verdict set aside. There is much more to the story than her claim.

Oh, and I have been happily married for many years.

b.f. said...

Thanks for letting readers know that the Columbia University Administration was apparently able to use its special influence in the U.S. court system to eventually "get Sharon's winning verdict" to be "set aside by the judge." (Coincidentally, at least two U.S. Supreme Court judges are also former members of the Columbia University Law School faculty, the Attorney General of the United States is a former Columbia University Trustee and at least one federal appellate judge in Manhattan is also on the Columbia University Law School teaching staff).

Sorry to hear that Sharon apparently felt that there was a risk that Columbia's attorneys were unethically monitoring her private life when you knew her, in order to help eventually win Columbia's court case.

Glad to hear that you found more personal happiness in your subsequent relationships.

Vivek Golikeri said...

Sharon was my friend when we both worked at Columbia Telefund in late 1987 and early 1988. Indeed, later in 1988 she confided her problems about Mark Urban to me and asked me to research some help for her. I gave the names and phone numbers of a couple of women's rights groups.

Sharon was no "black widow." She was a sweet innocent girl and was a kid sister figure to me. Don't know where she is now, but I pray for her well-being.