Elyse Dorsey and Angela Landry Commend George Mason University on Important Changes to its Policies and Practices

Policy changes include stricter prohibitions on faculty-student romantic and sexual relationships, enhanced training for employees, and additional procedural safeguards in Mason’s Title IX Process

ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 14, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Elyse Dorsey, Esq. and Angela Landry, Esq. today commended George Mason University (“Mason”) on a range of efforts to address and strengthen the prevention of sexual misconduct. Ms. Dorsey and Ms. Landry are graduates of George Mason’s Antonin Scalia Law School and worked with Mason to help inform the changes.

“No person should be denied the benefits of a Mason experience because of their sex, or face discrimination or sexual harassment,” said Ms. Dorsey. “We commend Mason for taking important steps to expand its commitment to protect students and employees from sexual discrimination and harassment.”

The following are among the changes that Mason is implementing, some of which were announced in August:

  • Mason has revised its policy regarding romantic and sexual relationships between employees and students to expand and more clearly define when such relationships are prohibited and to explicitly prohibit attempts to initiate such relationships.   In addition, the policy also states that violations will result in discipline up to and including termination.
  • Mason requires that all employees take a training on its revised prohibited relationships policy and requires all employees to certify that they understand the revised policy, are in compliance with the policy, and will comply with it going forward.
  • Mason will continue to inform students of its prohibited relationships policy and provide resources and reporting options via postings on campus and email communications throughout the year.
  • Mason will enhance the training and resources (including allocating appropriate time during work hours) for its internal Title IX advisors who provide support for individuals seeking to engage with or already involved in the Title IX process.
  • Mason will establish a formal channel to seek feedback from individuals who engage with the Title IX office at the conclusion of their matter for continued improvement.
  • Mason will continue to use neutral external hearing officers for its Title IX hearings and will ensure that neutrality is a paramount selection criteria when choosing future hearing officers.

“Not all students have known where to turn for advice about discrimination or have confidence that they will get the help they need,” said Ms. Landry. “We are hopeful that these changes at Mason will assure individuals that the university has increased protections in place, resources for those who may experience discrimination, and that the school takes their concerns seriously,” she concluded.

Ms. Dorsey and Ms. Landry reported sexual misconduct in late 2021 and early 2022. It has been previously reported in the media that, at the conclusion of an exhaustive investigation into allegations of misconduct, Professor Joshua D. Wright resigned his tenured position rather than face a termination proceeding.

“Power dynamics at work or in school are real,” added Russell Kornblith, Partner and General Counsel of Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP and an attorney for Ms. Dorsey and Ms. Landry. “We are pleased to see Mason taking steps to strengthen guardrails on relationships and to protect against the possibility of abuse. We are proud to have assisted our clients in sharing their experiences and informing these changes,” he said.

About Sanford Heisler Sharp

Sanford Heisler Sharp is a public interest and civil rights law firm with offices in New York, Washington, DC, San Francisco, Palo Alto, Atlanta, Baltimore, Nashville, and San Diego. The firm focuses on employment discrimination, Title IX, wage and hour, whistleblower and qui tam, criminal/sexual violence, financial services, and Asian American litigation and finance matters. Our lawyers have recovered over $1 billion for our clients through many verdicts and settlements.

In 2022, The National Law Journal named Sanford Heisler Sharp Civil Rights Firm of the Year, and it recognized the firm in 2021 as both the Employment Rights Firm of the Year and the Human Rights Firm of the Year. Law360 recognized the firm as Employment Practice Group of the Year in 2021, 2019, 2018, and 2016. Benchmark Litigation recognized the firm as the Labor & Employment Firm of the Year in 2021 and 2020.

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