A former employee of The Ohio State University has filed a lawsuit against the university alleging that it failed to address his complaints regarding the department director who sexually harassed him after knowing about his sexual orientation, reported The Lantern.
The former Buckeye Counselor, Stephen Kuntz in Student Academic Services resigned from his position in 2020.
He alleged that the university had not taken any action to prevent the hostile work environment he experienced from Sam Falcone, Student Services Associate Director.
The lawsuit described that once Kuntz disclosed his sexual orientation to colleagues, Falcone made unsolicited advances upon Kuntz by touching him without his permission and making suggestive verbal comments.
Falcone had already openly announced that he is gay to his colleagues.
The lawsuit stated the university had not taken corrective action to eradicate the hostile working environment in the department.
The lawsuit further stated the university violated Title VII, which forbids unlawful discrimination against someone’s color, race, sexual orientation, religion, etc.
Kuntz expects a reinstatement in his job. He further expects to receive damages and other compensation according to the lawsuit.
However, university spokesperson Chris Booker stated in an email that Kuntz had not reported the allegations to the university until his exit interview, which was on his last day of employment.
Further, Ohio State’s Office of Institutional Equity and U.S. EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) had reviewed the allegations and found no evidence of a violation.
The lawsuit stated that Falcone had begun to harass Kuntz after revealing he was gay to his colleagues in March 2019.
Moreover, the lawsuit described that Falcone said to Kuntz that he had a sexual dream about Kuntz, remarked about his legs, and addressed him as a stud. The suit also claimed that Falcone touched Kuntz at times without his consent and made efforts to be near him.
Kuntz was afraid to report the harassment considering Falcone’s history of sudden terminations, demotions, and promotions of employees.
Thus, the lawsuit stated that Kuntz was afraid Falcone might terminate him or block his promotions if he did not communicate with Falcone.
The lawsuit claimed that Kuntz had reported the sexual harassment to Human Resources during his exit interview. The university authorized the resignation. However, the university permitted Falcone to work for eight months during the investigation period.
The lawsuit argued that the university had concluded the investigation by stating that Falcone may have engaged in unsolicited sexual conduct, but no actions were taken or required.
Kuntz’s trial attorney, Elizabeth Tuck, said Kuntz hopes this case will inspire others to stand against hostile working environments and the power abuse of managers.
Our team of highly skilled professionals at First Response is always willing to help your company by providing advice to create a great work environment for staff. Our services range from an employee hotline to workplace investigations and HR advisors. Contact us today for more details.