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Jury Awards $2.5 Million to Former UC Riverside Chief Counsel for Wrongful Termination

Emanuel Shirazi

Michele Coyle, the former chief campus counsel at University of California Riverside from 2006 to 2012, was recently awarded $2.5 million by a Riverside jury. The jury concluded that University officials fired her out of retaliation when she reported the “rampant gender discrimination” she and other females were experiencing. Instead of investigating Coyle’s claims, they fired her one week before a federal “equal opportunity” audit was scheduled. Therefore, Coyle claimed that UC officials retaliated against her because she refused to comply with their discriminatory practices or whitewash the facts.

Coyle claimed that the Gender Discrimination she and other women experienced included:

  1. Dallas M. Rabenstein, the UC Riverside Executive Vice Chancellor, allegedly preferred hiring, promoting, and increasing the salaries of men over women.
  2. Rabenstein intentionally lied about the salary differences between his male and female employees in a federal audit.
  3. Rabenstein refused to accommodate the needs of female employees who were mothers of young children.
  4. Rabenstein referred to some females as “biddies”.
  5. Rabenstein referred to females asking for raises as being overly aggressive.

The jury ruled that university officials indeed violated the state labor code and the state Fair Employment and Housing Act. This is just the tip of the iceberg though. The Regents have been heavily criticized for their failure to properly investigate and handle sexual harassment and discrimination claims such as the sexual harassment claims that surfaced against the Dean of the UC Berkeley Law School. The President of the UC Regents, Janet Napolitano, recently stated “We must, and we will, do a better job of investigating all claims of sexual harassment or sexual violence thoroughly and fairly.” Let’s hope she means it.

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