Dismissal of Tenured Professor, Following Sexual Harassment Allegations by Student, Upheld

In Matter of Lai v. St. John’s Univ., 2017 NY Slip Op 07601 (App. Div. 2d Dept. Nov. 1, 2017), the court affirmed a lower court’s decision dismissing the Article 78 petition brought by a professor following his termination due to alleged sexual harassment of a student.

The court explained:

The employment of the petitioner, a tenured professor at St. John’s University’s Peter J. Tobin College of Business, was terminated following an investigation into complaints of sexual harassment made by a female student. The petitioner subsequently commenced this proceeding to review the determination by St. John’s University that the charges of sexual harassment were substantiated, that his conduct violated its policy against sexual harassment and discrimination and created a hostile educational environment, and that termination of his employment was warranted. The Supreme Court denied the petition and dismissed the proceeding.

The Supreme Court properly determined that St. John’s University substantially complied with its own rules, guidelines, and disciplinary procedures (see Matter of Fruehwald v Hofstra Univ., 82 AD3d 1233, 1234; see also Tedeschi v Wagner Coll., 49 NY2d 652), and that its determination sustaining the charges against the petitioner and terminating his employment was neither arbitrary and capricious nor an abuse of discretion[.]

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