Sexaul assault in the workplace

Yale suspends doctor for unethical behavior

On Nov. 14, the New York Times reported that Yale School of Medicine had suspended Dr. Michael Simons of his services as he was accused of sexually harassing a postdoctoral researcher in 2013. He was suspended for 18 months from his position of University Chief of Cardiology.

As a student of a university with high Catholic beliefs, I believe that cases like these not only generate fear, but also fury and rage along with the question of safety. Harassment is a serious issue and if something like that can happen in an educational institute, then there is no question of its impacts on the outside world.

We live in an environment where men and women of all different backgrounds come and work together, many times in tandem. Reports were that Dr. Simons had apparently been pressuring other researchers into making comments that would support him and probably save his career from jeopardy.

It is said that in the month of February in 2010, Dr. Simons, who is a married man, began making advances on researcher Anita Di Lorenzo and he did so through a letter. He continued to do so even after consecutive denials by Lorenzo. Lorenzo, a married woman herself, left the university in the year of 2011. This is not only outrageous but also shameful that Lorenzo, who was well-settled in her field, had to leave her research in the midst of it since she did not feel safe.

It happens many times that I have to work in groups and quite a few times, the peer whom I am working with is a female. So the first thing that comes to my mind is to make her feel safe and comfortable. In the end, we have come together to work. This case shows the concept of need for safety in the workplace.

Even if Dr. Simons was really attracted to Lorenzo, it was unethical and unacceptable to think of having a relationship like what he desired in a work place and especially at an educational institute.

I agree the steps that the university’s authorities have taken are correct and appropriate. My question however is, “Why was there a delay?”

Anyone who can go beyond appropriate behavior to an extent of sexually harassing someone should be treated with a fairly straightforward and unbiased treatment. Five years is a long time, but in the end, what matters is how fair the decision was.