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University of Michigan Pledges Protection for Those Who File Misconduct Claims

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Jan 16, 2022 | 0 Comments

Fully 81% of women and, perhaps even more surprising, 43% of men, report having experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault at some point in their life. Of course, there are also plenty of instances that go unreported—and unfortunately, there are also many false allegations of sexual harassment and abuse.

There are myriad factors that influence the likelihood of sexual harassment claims, but one of the most consequential is undoubtedly the fear of reprisal or retaliation. This is particularly true when the abuser holds a position of authority relative to their victim, such as being their boss, mentor, or professor.

Now, in light of a damning report concerning the behavior of former Provost Martin Philbert, the University of Michigan is revamping its reporting policy to protect victims who come forward to report such abuse or harassment.

A Pervasive Atmosphere of Abuse

Just in the past several years, the university has been plagued by allegations of sexual misconduct involving UM faculty and administration. Among those who have been investigated or charged with sexual harassment or abuse-related crimes are former campus doctor Robert Anderson; Peter Chen, former chair of the computer science department; former computer science professor Walter Lasecki; and two professors in the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, David Daniels and Stephen Shipps.

In July 2020, an independent investigation into Philbert uncovered evidence of misconduct involving multiple students and UM employees and stretching back decades.

Philbert was placed on administrative leave just days after allegations against him were first made, in January 2020. He was removed as provost in March and gave up his tenured faculty position in June.

UM's New Policy Protects Those Who Step Forward

As a result of these findings, UM set out to revamp its reporting policy. The aim? To lessen the odds of retaliation after a claim of abuse and to punish any wrongdoer who engages in retaliation in response to such a claim.

Consulting firm Guidepost Solutions, hired by the school in December 2020, recommended that a standalone policy be implemented. This policy is meant to directly address the issue at hand, retaliation, but is also intended to bolster the university's existing Title IX procedures.

According to a press release issued by UM, the new policy “prohibits acts or threats of retaliation, whether subtle or direct, that adversely affect employment or education as a result of making good-faith reports of wrongful conduct or participating in an investigation.”

Additionally, the university has established training programs for UM faculty, administration, and staff and will be implementing initiatives to educate the entire campus community about the issues of reporting and retaliation.

Been Accused of Misconduct?

Anyone who has been accused of misconduct, harassment, or abuse needs to tread very lightly to avoid additional problems. Despite the anger you may be feeling after such an accusation, retaliating against your accuser in any way will only make matters worse. Instead, consult with an experienced legal professional who can help you see a path out of this predicament.

Find out more about the steps you need to take and those you should avoid at all costs by contacting attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team at the Lento Law Firm. Call 888-535-3686 today.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Attorney Lento and his team represent students and others in disciplinary cases and various other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he and his team have sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address any school-related issue or concern anywhere in the United States.

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