Appeals Court Dismisses Yale Sex Harassment Suit

A federal appeals court last week dismissed a sexual harassment suit filed by five undergraduate women at Yale.

Upholding the earlier decision of a district court, Judge J. Edward Lumbard of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the suit, arguing that because Yale established an adequate procedure for appealing such cases, the university provides an environment of equal educational opportunity.

In the 1977 suit, the plaintiffs charged that the university simply denied their complaints and demanded that Yale adopt a procedure for "receiving, investigating and adjudicating" cases of sexual harassment.

Board

Yale established a grievance board for hearing complaints of sexual harassment in 1978. Since that time, the board has helped resolve the six cases brought to its attention, Judith B. Brandenburg, associate dean of Yale, said yesterday.

Lisa Stone, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said yesterday that despite her disappointment over the ruling, the suit "established that sexual harassment in an educational environment is sex discrimination. And we have established that a victim of sexual harassment can sue under Title IX," of the Department of Education's guidelines for equal educational opportunity, Stone said.

Harvard officials noted yesterday that the case alerted other universities to problems of sexual harassment and forced Yale to establish a procedure for dealing with such cases.

Marlyn M. Lewis '73, assistant dean of the College for coeducation who handles sexual harassment complaints at Harvard, said yesterday the case "is a positive thing for Yale" because "it gives them encouragement to deal with this sort of thing within the institution."

Lewis said that although Yale's grievance board system seems to work well there, she believes Harvard's system of counseling those who feel they have been harassed and referring serious cases to Deans Fox and Rosovsky works well. "Different procedures work at different places," she said.