Sanford Heisler Sharp Files $50 Million Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Columbia University and Tom Harford, Former Dean of Students of the School of General Studies

Posted August 28th, 2018.

Jane Doe Alleges Unwanted, Abusive, and Inappropriate Sexual Behavior by the Dean of StudentsFor more information, contact Jamie Moss, newsPRos,201-493-1027, [email protected]

August 28, 2018, New York, NY – Attorneys at Sanford Heisler Sharp today filed a $50 million sexual harassment suit against the trustees of Columbia University in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. The Complaint also names Tom Harford, the former Dean of Students of Columbia’s School of General Studies, as a defendant in this matter.

The firm represents plaintiff Jane Doe, an undergraduate at Columbia University. Jane Doe alleges that Dean Harford engaged in inappropriate and manipulative sexual behavior with her and that Columbia University violated Title IX in failing to protect her from his sexual misconduct. Doe is represented by Sanford Heisler Sharp's Chairman David Sanford, Vice-Chair Jeremy Heisler.

“Columbia pays lip service to the ideals of a safe campus, but it has a well-documented record of violating Title IX in preventing and responding to reports of sexual misconduct,” said Sanford. “Jane Doe’s story has become a familiar one at Columbia.”

Doe’s suit is the third gender discrimination/sexual harassment case against the prestigious Ivy League university brought by Sanford Heisler Sharp in the past year.  On July 27, the firm won a $1.25 million dollar jury award for former Columbia Business School professor Enrichetta Ravina, who asserted she was subjected to workplace retaliation and abuse of power in Columbia’s Business School.  In 2017, the firm settled a sexual harassment lawsuit that resulted in the retirement of renowned history professor William Harris, who was accused of kissing and groping the 29-year female graduate student. That lawsuit unearthed a nearly 50-year pattern of sexual harassment by Harris, consistently ignored by Columbia’s administration and trustees.

Today’s Complaint alleges that Dean of Students Harford used his power and influence to coerce Doe into an inappropriate sexual and romantic relationship in the summer of 2018. This inappropriate relationship came soon after Jane Doe had suffered a traumatic experience and was referred to the Dean for assistance. Harford gave Jane Doe money from his personal funds and then subjected her to unwanted, abusive and inappropriate sexual activity, told her stories about his violent past to intimidate her, and used her need for scholarship funds as bait to keep her bound to him.

The suit is brought under the New York City Human Rights Law, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and New York common law. The filing requests compensatory and punitive damages for Doe, as well as all attorneys’ fees, a pre-and post-judgment interest, and other relief the Court may find just and proper.

A jury trial is requested.

About Sanford Heisler Sharp

Sanford Heisler Sharp is a public interest class-action litigation law firm with offices in New York; Washington, D.C; San Francisco; Nashville; San Diego; and Baltimore.  Our attorneys have graduated from the nation’s top law schools, clerked for judges throughout the United States, and amassed extensive experience litigating and trying cases that have earned over one billion dollars for our clients.

The Firm specializes in civil rights and general public interest cases, representing plaintiffs with claims of employment discrimination, sexual violence, labor and wage violations, predatory lending, consumer fraud, and whistleblowing, among other claims. Along with a focus on class actions, the Firm also represents individuals and has achieved extraordinary success in the representation of executives and attorneys in employment disputes.

For more information go to  or call 646-791-4848 or email [email protected]. For the latest news, visit our newsroom or follow us on Twitter at @sanfordheisler.