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