Ohio University Professor Asks For Dismissal Of Lawsuit

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ATHENS (WOUB) — An Ohio University professor is asking to be dismissed from a lawsuit in which he is accused of sexually harassing a graduate student who worked with him.

Yusuf Kalyango, Jr.

Dr. Yusuf Kalyango filed a motion April 12 with the U.S. District Court Southern District of Ohio Eastern Division, claiming none of the woman’s claims in the lawsuit have merit.

Tess Herman filed a lawsuit against both Kalyango and Ohio University, alleging Kalyango sexually harassed her and caused harm to her educational experience and the job under which she was supervised by Kalyango.

After a year-long university investigation into Herman’s claims of sexual harassment and hostile work environment, an investigator substantiated her claims, leading to discussion of discipline for Kalyango. The university is still in the process of conducting detenuring proceedings against Kalyango, which will be considered by a faculty committee. This committee plans to meet after they receive information on two other investigations of Dr. Kalyango, one of which remains open.

Attorney Gregory Beck argues that Herman voluntarily resigned from her employment in the Young African Leaders Initiative, not fired by Kalyango, and that she “fails to set forth facts that rise to the level of sexual harassment or retaliation.”

Beck particularly mentions a hotel in Rwanda, where Kalyango claimed there was only one room available, offering to share the room, according to Herman’s lawsuit. Beck said Kalyango said he would “stay out of (plaintiff’s) way,” and he did not end up staying in the room.

In response to claims that Kalyango acted retaliatory because Herman did not want to sit next to him on the plane home from the trip to Africa, he said Herman “rebuffed the typical and expected work-related behavior for the lengthy travel home with the YALI program, which was used to inventory and reconcile expense documents…”

“The plaintiff asked Dr. Kalyango to change her seat assignment for the return flight from South Africa so that she was not seated near Dr. Kalyango or in a position to go over the expense reports during the course of the return flight,” court documents stated. “Dr. Kalyango obliged and changed her seat upon request.”

After the financial report was submitted, Kalyango “found it to be grossly inadequate and rife with errors,” requiring him to spend “over forty hours reviewing and correcting the financial expense report.”

The court documents say Kalyango sent an email advising Herman of her mistakes in the report, but the email was constructive criticism that would have been given to any other employee.

“In this case, irrespective of the alleged sexual harassment, the plaintiff has failed to sufficiently allege that any other student who did not adequately perform her task would not also have been emailed a reprimand,” Beck wrote.

The attorney also asks that the sexual harassment claims be dismissed because her lawsuit “does not reveal that she was subjected to unwelcomed sexual harassment, that such harassment was based on sex, that she submitted to any unwelcomed advances on condition of receiving any benefits, or that a tangible job or education detriment occurred as a result of her refusal to submit to any sexual demands.”

“While some of the conduct asserted by (Herman) may appear on its face to be mildly inappropriate for a student/professor or employee/supervisor relationship, none of it constituted requests for sexual favors,” the motion states.

Ohio University has already asked to be dismissed from the lawsuit, claiming administration took the necessary steps to address the situation when they were notified of it.

Kalyango also filed a cross-claim to the Herman’s lawsuit in which he denies the claims, accuses the university of discriminating against him, and the university investigator of conducting a flawed investigation.

You can read Kalyango’s motion to dismiss here: Kalyango Motion to Dismiss