Cuesta College employees sue over alleged sexual harassment

February 9, 2012

Four women filed suit in December against a Cuesta College faculty chair, the college and several campus officials claiming ongoing sexual harassment and the college’s failure to respond to complaints. [Tribune]

Three claimants contend Don Norton, Cuesta’s division chair of Human Development, made inappropriate sexual comments, attempted unwanted massages, became angry when one of the claimants refused to share a hotel room with him at a conference and made insults regarding religious believes. The fourth claims she was retaliated against for her support of the other three women.

Former instructor Margaret Perez-Sesser and current teachers Jan Gillette, Claudia Harmon Worthen and Marilyn Rossa said school officials failed to “provide a workplace free from unlawful discrimination.”

Cuesta President Gil Stork told the Tribune that “the campus has no comment on personnel issues.”

Gillette said she complained to five Cuesta deans in an effort to stop the harassment, but no one took action against Norton.

“(Norton) engaged in a continuous pattern of discrimination and harassment of (Gillette) on the basis of sex, religion and age,” the lawsuit states.

Gillette says Norton retaliated against her by getting others to manipulate her schedule and make false claims against her.

The four plaintiffs are seeking unspecified compensation, medical expenses and attorneys’ fees.


14 Comments

  1. Ugluk says:

    Ironically, there is a “Donate to Cuesta” sponsored link on this website, at the same time this harassment story and the loss of accreditation story is running.

    Questa’s recent harassment and accreditation fiascoes make me much more likely to reach for my Pepto Bismol than my checkbook.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  2. As the world turns says:

    Again, taxpayers paying for public employees not doing their job. The taxpayers will also pay for the lawyers to defend Cuesta and any type of settlement.

    During these hard economic times, one would hope public employees would be thankful they have jobs (with benefits).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

  3. Maxfusion says:

    Ah yes, the “harassment” industry flourishes. Good to know that some businesses are still doing well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 6

  4. pasoman says:

    No mention if Norton was put on leave. I rather doubt a professional place like Cuesta, or a professional like Gil Stork, would leave him in place doing his daily duties as department chair while the investigation is in progress. Really? Maybe someone can answer that question?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 6

    • scigeek says:

      He remains in place-no leave of any kind

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 7

    • cougarist says:

      This is the reason Cuesta is named in the suit — they”ve taken no action to stop the sexual harassment and, in fact, have targeted (not sexually) certain employees themselves. Remember, the district got spanked for harassing the drama teachern a couple of years ago. One might expect that they”d recognize PERB rulings as a notice to change their ways, but they haven”t.

      The continuing accreditation problem is another example of their apparent head-in-the-sand approach. This stuff has been going on for years. Even Gil, who represented to many the last hope, seems to do nothing but give lip service. This week, his office has sent out talking points to employees so that we know what to say if asked. Is it really the best idea to cover up problems?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 13

      • As the world turns says:

        No doubt whistleblowers would be disciplined, ostracized, and possibly fired for bringing unlawful acts to the public’s attention.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

  5. hotdog says:

    What has that to do with this issue? And what is your implication anyway? Since the ACLU is charged with defending our constitution (even when taking unpopular positions) everyone should be a member. So, I guess you are assuming it is some sort of commie conspiracy to ruin our ‘rights’ to kill, pollute and force right wing christian religion on everyone. If so, wrong article to whine about that. If I read you wrong let me know

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 17

  6. The Gimlet Eye says:

    Very interesting.

    However, what happened to the word, “chairman”? The head of a department is a “chair” now? That grates!

    Spelling: beliefs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 9

    • cougarist says:

      Please……adding “man” to the ends of titles often diminishes women’s chances of being treated fairly. Instead of refering to a chairman or chairwoman, titles such as “chair” are simple, easy, and non-gender replacements.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 19

      • The Gimlet Eye says:

        Oh, come on cougarist! That makes a mockery of the English language! Those evils are all in your head and linguistic voodoo.

        Pursuing your logic, Zimmerman becomes Zimmerperson, Kauffman, Kauffperson, mailman, mailperson, night watchman, watchperson…….yuck!

        Who the hell is any one person to “change” our language to some neutered, politically correct system governed by ridiculous, high-brow, overbearing fuddy duddies who would not know good English if it came up and bit their spectacles off?

        Count me out, I refuse!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 9

  7. scigeek says:

    Regarding this lawsuit at Cuesta? It’s about time. It says that this situation has been going on for over 5 years and nothing has been done to stop the bad behavior. Go get ‘em!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 10

    • cougarist says:

      What’s best for Cuesta?
      accountability — it’s about time! Sadly, this is only a beginning.

      What’s best for students?
      models of:
      – integrity (i.e. Marilyn & Jan; definitely NOT the current administration or the impotent faculty leadership)
      – intellectual discussions without vicious slander (i.e. ditto)
      – a student-first attitude (i.e. déjà vu all over again)
      – a community that cares enough to demand transparency, honesty, and integrity

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 15

  8. TacomaRose says:

    Hey Duerr & Cuddy:

    I see you broke a story on sexual harrassment. Are you going to call your reporter Nick Wilson full of swamp gas?

    At best you are hypocrites and at worst you are unethical knotheads.

    Riddle me this? What does Solomon have on you?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 29 Thumb down 7

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