San Francisco Bay Area Managing Partner Marie Trimble Holvick and Partner Amber Eklof of the San Francisco office secured a complete defense verdict on December 22, 2022, after a lengthy jury trial in Alameda County Superior Court.
The University of California is one of the largest employers in the state of California. The plaintiff was a former assistant professor at the UC Berkeley campus. Four students accused the plaintiff of sexual harassment. As a result, the plaintiff was terminated following multiple Title IX investigations, an investigation by faculty investigators, and a hearing conducted by UC Berkeley’s Committee on Privilege & Tenure. The allegations against the plaintiff were widely publicized at the time, as was the decision to terminate him.
In response, the plaintiff alleged that he had been subjected to disability discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Specifically, he denied the sexual harassment allegations and claimed that his disability was the real motivation to terminate him.
The trial lasted seven weeks and was conducted via Zoom. The plaintiff requested an award of several million dollars, but the jury returned a defense verdict in favor of the University and awarded the plaintiff nothing.
The University filed a cross-complaint against the plaintiff to recover money paid to settle claims filed by the four students who had accused the plaintiff of sexual harassment. The jury also found in favor of the University with respect to the cross-complaint.
Marie Trimble Holvick, Amber Eklof, and this successful result were featured in ALM's Litigation Daily newsletter on January 9, 2023.