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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 41221
Experience:  Multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation and administration.
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I recently had an interesting conversation with one of my close

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I recently had an interesting conversation with one of my close colleagues (and supposedly academic mentor). He asked for a 'favor': to replace him in his class session (a late afternoon class). Usually, that would not have been a problem, bu this year I decided to work a flex schedule (7-3) to be able to pick my child up at school. I explained this problem to him, but to help my colleague I said I would be able to work this out for him regardless, even if I had to bring my child to the classroom. At which point my colleague said my solution is entirely inappropriate and unacceptable, told me that I should get a sitter, lectured me about my family choices as they putatively conflict with my professional responsibilities, and threatened that my career and future at the department might be at stake unless I changed my ways (I am not permanent faculty). I am employed with a major public university. Any advice?
I suggest you have a frank discussion with your mentor to explain your limitations based on your actual position with the faculty. Many times professors and faculty mentors simply do not understand outside life.   Hopefully that will allow you both to truly communicate about your contribution to the faculty, and what he sees for you in your future, and what you may see for yourself in your future to see if they coincide. (That is the practical approach)

Legally, however, the mentor is completely off-line. He has no legal or practical right to lecture you about your personal choices. I would consider you contact the dean of the department (or dean of the school if your mentor is the dean) to discuss this situation in private. Explain that the mentor was not professional with you and that if this behavior continues, you may have to bring in a suit for a hostile work environment.


Dimitry Alexander Kaplun, Esq.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I am confident that taking this with the department chair (a buddy of the problem colleague) would take this nowhere -except make more difficulties for me, now and in the future (if there is one). On the other hand, the University administration tends to be rather complacent about such thorny matters. Too many times I have seen problems of this kind brushed away under the carpet. Can you be a little more specific about hostile work environment? What kind of evidence is required to take legal action -say if things got tougher and uglier (further harassment, discrimination etc.)? Against whom would legal action be launched (individual, department, university?). What kinds of settlements are typical in your experience for things like this? I don't plan to take legal action right away, only to know what such action might entail, what to look out for now and in the future, and whether/how I could benefit condretely from legal action. For your information, I live in Virginia. My employer is the University of Virginia. Thank you.
A hostile work environment is where an individual is being unreasonably harassed, targeted, or intimidated, to the point where the individual fears going to work, or feels oppressed about being there. In addition, hostile work environment may also be viewed where an employee is being unreasonably withheld from promotions (once the harassment begins) and where outside and non-work interests are brought out in a discriminatory fashion. Also, hostile work environment is one of two legal categories of sexual harassment as well.

You would be able to pursue an organizational and a personal suit against both the university and the mentor.

Settlements are tricky and are based on many factors, including pervasive atmosphere, length of harassment, activity (or lack of) of the organization, and salary requirements of the victim. Some settlements can be in 6 to 7 figures, depending, but it is hard to judge because each case is very different.

Good luck to you.


Dimitry Alexander Kaplun, Esq.
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