Former Kansas College Employee Wins $500K Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

The school was found liable for distress experienced by the victim as a result of the harassment.

A former employee at Kansas’s Pittsburgh State University was awarded $500,000 after a jury ruled in her favor in a sexual harassment lawsuit Dec. 1.

Martha Fox claimed her former supervisor repeatedly sexual harassed her between 2012 and 2014 when she served as a custodian at the school, reports

Fox also alleged the school ignored her harassment reports and retaliated against her for filing them.

Fox began working under Supervisor Jana Giles when she was moved to cleaning PSU’s McCray Hall in 2012. Fox testified that Giles made obscene gestures, called her names, followed her home and touched her in unwanted ways.

Later that year, court documents show that Fox reported the harassment to Shift Supervisor Kevin Malle and Physical Plant Manager Wanda Endicott. Another custodian also testified that she reported the harassment to Endicott in 2013, but nothing was done to stop it.

Then in a confrontation later that year, Giles called Fox a liar and challenged her to a fight. Fox claims the harassment only got worse after that.

RELATED: UCLA Settles Title IX Lawsuit with Students Alleging Harassment

In 2014, Fox went to PSU’s Director of Office of Institutional Equity and Title IX Coordinator Cindy Johnson with a video of Giles’ partner Cathy Brown, who is also a custodian, making obscene gestures. But Johnson’s ensuing investigation determined Giles did not sexually harass Fox.

“It was so upsetting, it was like living a nightmare,” Fox told the jury. “I was on a roller coaster ride. My anxiety. My heart would beat so hard it would make me sweat and just sick to my stomach.”

Fox’s attorney’s argued that school official’s lack of action to stop the alleged harassment violated Title IX.

The jury ruled that PSU was liable for the distress Fox experienced and ordered the school to pay $230,000 in damages, $225,270 for legal fees and $7,910.72 for expenses.

PSU President Steve Scott said in a statement that the university disagreed with the jury’s ruling and is appealing the case through the Kansas Attorney General’s Office.

Read Next: UC Berkley, Davis Chancellors Resign Amid Public Safety Controversies

If you appreciated this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

Leading in Turbulent Times: Effective Campus Public Safety Leadership for the 21st Century

This new webcast will discuss how campus public safety leaders can effectively incorporate Clery Act, Title IX, customer service, “helicopter” parents, emergency notification, town-gown relationships, brand management, Greek Life, student recruitment, faculty, and more into their roles and develop the necessary skills to successfully lead their departments. Register today to attend this free webcast!

Get Our Newsletters
Campus Safety Conference promo