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Volume 6, Issue 12
December 2017
Princeton University Facing Sexual Harassment Allegations
Electrical Engineering professor Sergio Verdo was found guilty of sexually harassing Yeohee Im, one of his student advisers in a Title IX investigation that was revealed by HuffPost. Im told HuffPost that Verdu touched her thigh and stomach. He also allegedly asked her to come to his house to watch sexually explicit films. According to Im, the university's punishment for Verdu was a required eight hour sexual harassment training course. Princeton officials said the training was not Verdu's only punishment, but refused to go into detail on the subject. About 750 Princeton students, staff and alumni signed a petition calling for the university to punish Verdu more severely and clarify how it adjudicates sexual harassment claims. According to students, the university was not transparent in it's handling of Verdu's punishment and they believed it did not discipline him in an appropriate manner for the seriousness of the alleged harassment. One student explained that the power imbalance is so drastically uneven due to the narrowness of graduate students fields that a professor has the power to damage the student's future career opportunities. Another student, Michelle Zheng, was of the opinion that the university did not do enough to protect other students in the electrical engineering department who may have worked with Verdu in a similar capacity to Im. According to Zheng, the school did not publicize the issue until after the HuffPost article came out.
Employees Fired for Refusing Flu Shot
Essentia Health fired about 50 employees for refusing to get a flu shot. In October, Essentia announced that all employees would be required to get influenza vaccinations or submit a religious or medical exemption form. The company explained it wanted to help protect patients from the illness at its 15 hospitals and 75 clinics in Minnesota, Idaho, North Dakota and Wisconsin. According to Essentia, 99 percent of employees received the vaccination or received an exemption or were getting an exemption by the specified deadline. A federal judge denied the United Steelworkers injunction to delay the policy, and at least two other unions will be filing on behalf of the terminated employees. 
Tenth Circuit Revives Black Applicant's Bias Lawsuit Against Safeway
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled that Safeway may have discriminated against Abiodun Sotunde, a black supervisor at one of its distribution centers. Sotunde had earned his bachelor's and MBA degrees while working for Safeway. When the company announced they would be hiring for manager positions, one of the requirements was a relevant degree. According to the court, the director of distribution had the authority to waive the education requirement. However, the director hired two white applicants who lacked degrees but, according to the distributor, possessed superior relevant work experience. Sotunde had superior educational qualifications and did not have any outstanding flags in his performance as a supervisor. The director said he was concerned about Sotunde's absences and interpersonal skills despite evidence that one of the white applicants had similar issues, the court said. The court's decision outlines the pretext for a discrimination claim because the candidate that was selected had similar flags in his professional past as the director claimed Sotunde had. According to the court, the director's explanation and potentially biased conduct meant his decision to reject Sotunde's application for promotion could be considered discriminatory.
House of Representatives To Adopt Anti-Sexual Harassment Training Plan
The United States House of Representatives held a vote this week to pass a new plan requiring all members to undergo mandatory anti-sexual harassment training. The House approved the proposal that would require all lawmakers to undergo annual training and require training for all House officers and employees. The proposal calls for the House Administration Committee to issue detailed regulations for the training program within 30 days of the resolution's enactment. House Speaker Paul Ryan said "Additional reforms to the system are under consideration." 
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