She Left, He Stayed
May 1, 2018 11:52 AM   Subscribe

Only a few years after federal courts recognized sexual harassment as a form of discrimination, Terry Karl tried to get Harvard to hold her harasser accountable. And despite the time spent trying to get Harvard to do something and many other complaints, Jorge Dominguez's career has flourished
posted by brookeb (22 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Dominguez has been a well-known missing stair at Harvard for decades. I know (at least) two different women who were harassed by him. They don't know each other.

And I didn't even go to Harvard.
posted by Etrigan at 12:01 PM on May 1, 2018 [17 favorites]


Note that this was published in February. Shortly thereafter, he was placed on administrative leave and then announced his retirement, effective at the end of the semester. However, a university review of the allegations continues.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 12:02 PM on May 1, 2018 [5 favorites]


He should not be allowed to retire. He needs to be fired.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:12 PM on May 1, 2018 [37 favorites]


While the headline on this FPP is fine, the headline of the article is more pertinent: "She Left Harvard. He Got to Stay."

Now he got to go.
posted by chavenet at 12:33 PM on May 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


I misread the headline as Feudal several times.

I need a nap but also feel I'm somehow not entirely wrong.
posted by sio42 at 12:46 PM on May 1, 2018


Along with being temporarily removed from administrative responsibilities, he was also forbidden from reviewing Karl's work or taking part in discussions about her promotion. As for Karl, she was given three semesters of paid leave, and her tenure clock was put on hold for two years. 

As in, they effectively kicked her out?!
posted by aniola at 1:38 PM on May 1, 2018


As for Karl, she was given three semesters of paid leave, and her tenure clock was put on hold for two years.

As in, they effectively kicked her out?!


Could be, but by itself this sounds like a benefit rather than a penalty. Paid time to work on your research, and a longer timetable to be assessed for it. So I think they were trying to offer her compensation to make the problem go away.
posted by grobstein at 2:06 PM on May 1, 2018 [10 favorites]


...the headline of the article is more pertinent: "She Left Harvard. He Got to Stay."

Now he got to go.


With a nice, fat pension?
posted by Thorzdad at 2:07 PM on May 1, 2018


I have mixed feelings about taking away people's pensions for wrongdoing, tbh, and I think people suggest this because so few people have pensions now that folks aren't aware of how they work. (Pensions are great, we should all have them.)

Your pension is a negotiated benefit that you pay into during your employment. Both you and your employer contribute, usually on a roughly equal basis. It isn't something that you are just given at retirement - it's something that you and your employer have been budgeting for during your whole working career.

Taking away someone's pension raises issues, in fact, and it's a weird kind of harm. Let's say that I work somewhere for twenty years, and I pay an average of $200 into the pension system pre-tax every month. If my pension gets taken away, what happens to that money? Even if I get it back in full, I am harmed - if I'd had that money every month in my actual paycheck, I would have socked it into a retirement account and would have had a lot more than just $2400 for every year I worked.

And then there's the fact that while I worked for my employer, their contribution was part of my pay package. Saying "you don't get your pension" is very much like saying, "you committed wrongdoing, you have to pay back a percentage of your wages".

And it's moral hazard. Republicans and rich people hate pensions because they create security for working people and create a commitment on the part of employers that is hard to weasel out of. The minute we get into "you are fired for cause, we're taking your pension", that's a huge incentive to fire people for "cause" as they get close to retirement.

I just don't think people should lose their pensions - which represents their retirement investments and part of their pay over many, many years - any more than they should have to pay back wages if fired for cause. It sucks that terrible people get to benefit from the pension system, but it's just like the legal system - even garbage people should have a fair trial, not just get whisked away to jail.
posted by Frowner at 2:18 PM on May 1, 2018 [86 favorites]


c.f. story about UC Berkeley also published in February.
What happened when women banded together, kept a paper trail, told their story, launched an investigation and proved a hostile work environment? A woman was laid off, and the men’s careers soared.
posted by Zed at 2:58 PM on May 1, 2018 [19 favorites]


Has anybody seen any examples of a successful academic getting satisfactorily dealt with for harassment? What would that even look like?

(Burn it to the ground / academia's structure invites this / the problem is due to society / etc. may be true and cathartic reactions ... but aren't particularly useful if a department is trying to figure out what to do with a problem, today.)
posted by Metasyntactic at 5:45 PM on May 1, 2018


Has anybody seen any examples of a successful academic getting satisfactorily dealt with for harassment? What would that even look like?

What it would look like is the university taking the accusations seriously, and once corroborated firing the asshole, with the rest of academia acknowledging that tenure protects the controversial, not assholes.
posted by NoxAeternum at 5:49 PM on May 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


Yup. When people tell me, “you’re lucky, you’ve got tenure, so you can’t be fired, “ I sort of goggle at the notion. I often wonder how this myth got started, since that’s not what tenure is.

It simply means that I can’t be fired without an evidentiary hearing, in which admin has to provide evidence of just cause. And just cause can’t involve “taught something controversial or against an administrator’s political or religious views, etc.”

If I were guilty of sexual harassment, my tenure should provide about as much protection as wet tissue paper, if the administrators are competent and diligent and ethical.

Faculty tenure is often a scapegoat that gets blamed for other problems in the system, such as a lazy or incompetent administrator who doesn’t want to do the significant work and spend the political capital to document a personnel issue and fire someone for a legitimate cause.
posted by darkstar at 6:02 PM on May 1, 2018 [16 favorites]


darkstar: I think that every time someone rants about government workers being unfireable. Competent managers can fire people (a couple negative reviews showing cause & lack of improvement) but nobody ever seems to put the lazy ones in the hotspot rather than attack an entire class of worker.
posted by adamsc at 6:07 PM on May 1, 2018 [9 favorites]


Right, you fire the academic, then what? This seems like the pass-the-trash solution that came across metafilter a while ago, where actual career-affecting consequences require coordination beyond a single university.

Also, do funding agencies even care? If an academic is successful (at least, in a STEM context), they have $$$$ in grants which they merrily take with them to a new institution that wants their overhead and gives them a pay bump to get it...
posted by Metasyntactic at 6:24 PM on May 1, 2018


I just don't think people should lose their pensions - which represents their retirement investments and part of their pay over many, many years - any more than they should have to pay back wages if fired for cause.

Of course he shouldn't lose his pension. How else is he going to pay the lost wages of all the women he (and Harvard) pushed off of their career tracks?
posted by Etrigan at 6:48 PM on May 1, 2018 [10 favorites]


I just don't think people should lose their pensions...
posted by Frowner


I agree. Best case: he gets his pension, and then she wins a civil suit against him and he gets to pay--right outta the pension each month.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:50 PM on May 1, 2018 [8 favorites]


Jinx, Etrigan!
posted by BlueHorse at 6:51 PM on May 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Best I can tell being very far from there, Harvard does not have a pension for faculty. Their retirement plans seem to be entirely 403bs, which are 401ks for nonprofits.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:06 PM on May 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


But grants.
posted by runcifex at 8:00 PM on May 1, 2018


Of course he shouldn't lose his pension. How else is he going to pay the lost wages of all the women he (and Harvard) pushed off of their career tracks?

Oh, absolutely - "you get the what you worked for, now you're on the hook for a civil suit" is great.

Best I can tell being very far from there, Harvard does not have a pension for faculty. Their retirement plans seem to be entirely 403bs, which are 401ks for nonprofit

And this is the other piece - "we'll claw back your benefits if we fire you for cause" doesn't impact anyone who has their own independent investment portfolio. This is one of the reasons that civil judgments or, preferably, firing people right away are much better.

I know this seems stupid and like I'm not taking the issue seriously, but as someone in a union I've observed many years of really underhanded "we should take people's benefits as punishment" stuff where the employer does not care one bit about the offense but just sees it as a disaster capitalism opportunity. This does not actually result in dealing with the harassment or unjust grading or bias in promotions or whatever, because they don't care about those things, it just serves as a thin end of the wedge for an attack on all employees. It's very popular to call for stripping academics and state employees of their benefits, and employers do this cynically, not because they think it will end wrongdoing.
posted by Frowner at 6:35 AM on May 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


her tenure clock was put on hold for two years.
This just means that she got two extra years on her "clock" before she was evaluated for tenure. It's a good thing, because it gives you more time to get more grants, research, and publications done before you essentially ask the university, by way of giving them a veritable shit ton of documentation about your career, to grant you tenure. More time directly translates to more "stuff" that you can put in your documentation.
posted by sockermom at 6:45 PM on May 2, 2018


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