Employees of the Extension School will take part in a sexual harassment sensitivity, workshop next Wednesday, Dean of Continuing Education and University Extension Michael Shinagel said yesterday.
All the employees of the Extension School have been "strongly encouraged to participate" in the two-hour workshop, which "will sensitize people, inform them about what constitutes sexual harassment," Shinagel said.
Shinagel denied yesterday that the Extension School's decision to schedule it first sensitivity workshop is connected to Extension School at ministrator M. Delise Battenfield's lawsuit of last July accusing the University of ignoring her complaints of sexual harassment.
But Battenfield's attorney, Peter W. Adler, said that he believed Battenfield's accusation may have prompted the workshop. "It seems to me it may have been influenced by our case," he said.
Shinagel said that Wednesday's seminars are part of an "ongoing process" in the University.
Director of Staff Relations for the Office of Human Resources Mary G. Opperman and Director of Human Resources Diane B. Patrick, who have led similar workshops for other University departments, will conduct the workshop.
"This is something we've been planning to do," Shinagel said. "We're like any other department at Harvard, complying with the law and trying to be as professional as we can be."
Personnel Officer Wayne K. Ishikawa agreed. "We've finally gotten around to scheduling this," he said.
Battenfield claimed in her suit that Donald Ostrowski, research coordinator in the master of liberal arts program at the Extension School, sexually harassed her, and that Shinagel did not act on her subsequent complaint. A court date will be set for her case on August 22.
Both Shinagel and Ostrowski denied the charges in April.
The participants of the workshop will listen to a talk on the legal background on the issue. They will also view video recorded vignettes to learn what constitutes sexual harassment, according to Ishikawa.