Lawsuit claims UT Tyler Dean sexually harassed faculty members

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TYLER, Texas (KETK) The University of Texas at Tyler is under fire for their alleged mishandling of a sexual misconduct investigation involving the now Dean of the College of Education and Psychology, Dr. Wesley Hickey.

Two women, Laura Owens and Dr. Jennifer Jones, claim they were subject to sexual harassment by Dr. Hickey over multiple years while working at UT Tyler.

The lawsuit was filed on July 2nd, stating the women had been receiving “offensive, unwelcome, and persistent sexual advances” over the last four years.

Both women filed a Title IX complaint against Hickey. Ultimately, the university found that he had engaged in sexual misconduct but not to the point of it being considered harassment. Jones and Owens say he was never reprimanded for his actions despite evidence presented against him. At the time of allegations, he is thought to have been a consideration for his current job as Dean.

According to the Director of the Office of Compliance, the investigators were “rushed,” under a “ton of stress,” and “pressure to get it done” by University Administration because of the then ongoing search for a new Dean, which resulted in Hickey’s promotion.

KETK sat down with Justin Roberts from Roberts & Roberts who talked us through the protections under Title IX.

“Typically you have a duty under this title to take corrective action. Make sure you figure out what happened and that it won’t happen again,” said Roberts. “That is unclear if that really happened here. There is suggestion that this gentleman was about to be promoted and that is why they didn’t do certain things they should have done.”

When asked to comment on the incident UT Tyler gave us this statement :

“By policy, The University of Texas at Tyler does not comment on ongoing litigation.

The University of Texas at Tyler is dedicated to creating a workplace that is free from discrimination, harassment and retaliation. The University has a robust grievance policy to ensure its employees may report any instances of discrimination, receive support, and that reported allegations of discrimination are investigated. The University’s Office of Compliance ensures that our grievance procedures follow government guidelines that protect employees against retaliation.

The University is committed to hiring individuals who support our anti-discrimination policies.”

UT Tyler’s anti-discrimination and grievance policies can be found here:
https://catalogs.uttyler.edu/en/UTTyler/HOP/Series-200-General-Policies-and-Procedures/2-4-1-Nondiscrimination-Policy-and-Complaint-Procedure

And here:
https://catalogs.uttyler.edu/en/UTTyler/HOP/Series-200-General-Policies-and-Procedures/2-4-3-Sexual-Harassment-Complaint_Investigation_and-Grievance

The charter for the Office of Compliance can be found here:
https://www.uttyler.edu/compliance/documents/UT-Tyler-Compliance-Charter-May-27-2020.pdf

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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