Did Lehigh University Ignore Sexual Harassment Claims to Help Maintain a Racially Diverse Faculty?

Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is facing a lawsuit after a faculty member claims the university retained James Braxton Peterson, a prominent Black professor, despite evidence that he had sexually harassed women colleagues. The lawsuit claims that the university wanted to maintain its image as a diverse institution and did not pay adequate attention to sexual harassment claims against the professor.

The lawsuit was filed by Monica Miller, an associate professor of Africana studies at Lehigh University. After the evidence against Peterson became too much to ignore, Lehigh suspended him and placed Miller in his position as head of the Africana studies program, a role Miller claims she was too inexperienced to hold. According to her, she was only placed in that figure-head position because she was Black. Miller claims that when the university put her into this position when she was not ready, it subjected her to “a hostile environment of intimidation and harassment,” her lawsuit reads.

Miller also alleges that she was sexually harassed by Peterson while she was interviewing for her job. According to her, Peterson made inappropriate comments to her and called her late at night about the position. In 2013, Peterson took Miller to a restaurant alone where he asked her to sit on his lap and kiss him, and rubbed her leg under the table, according to the lawsuit. Miller alleges that after she was hired, he continued to harass her, but as a pre-tenure scholar, she felt too vulnerable to make a formal complaint against him.


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Two Black Scholars Appointed to Faculty Positions

The new faculty are Esther Jones at Brown University and Dagmawi Woubshet at the University of Pennsylvania.

Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision is Established at Bowie State University

"The new program will help to increase the number of counselor educators within the counseling field and the number of competent Black counselor educators," says Dr. Otis Williams, chair of the Bowie State University department of counseling and psychological studies.

Elizabeth City State University Partners With the University of Tennessee Health Science Center to Increase Representation of Black Graduate...

"We are excited by this partnership with UT Health Science Center and the opportunities this brings to our students who wish to pursue advanced degrees," said Kuldeep Rawat, dean of the Elizabeth City State University School of Science, Health and Technology.

Kimberly White-Smith Honored for Outstanding Contributions to Teacher Education

“Through her leadership and scholarship, Dr. White-Smith inspires a new generation of teachers to serve students and approach their work with equity, compassion, and respect,” said Gail F. Baker, provost and senior vice president at the University of San Diego. 

Featured Jobs