National Legal Advocacy Nonprofit Public Justice Joins Sanford Heisler Sharp as Co-Counsel in Title IX Lawsuit Against Harvard University

On Behalf of | March 21, 2023 | Title IX

NEW YORK and BOSTON, March 13, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Sanford Heisler Sharp announced today that Public Justice is joining as co-counsel in its ongoing litigation against Harvard University and the President and Fellows of Harvard College.

On February 8, 2022, Sanford Heisler Sharp filed a complaint in Massachusetts federal court alleging that Harvard willfully ignored nearly a decade of sexual harassment and retaliation by tenured anthropology professor John Comaroff. Together, Sanford Heisler Sharp and Public Justice represent Margaret Czerwienski, Lilia Kilburn, and Amulya Mandava, who are graduate students in Harvard’s Anthropology Department.

“We are pleased to partner with Public Justice, an organization with an impressive reputation for protecting the civil rights of students,” said Russell Kornblith, partner and general counsel at Sanford Heisler Sharp and counsel to the plaintiffs. “The organization’s involvement in this case adds another important voice to the calls for accountability. Harvard must act to protect students.”

Public Justice is a nonprofit legal advocacy organization that is dedicated to protecting civil rights and expanding access to justice. The attorneys in its Students’ Civil Rights Project are at the forefront of Title IX litigation and advocacy and have extensive experience representing students who experience gender-based harassment or discrimination in their K-12 schools, colleges, and universities.

“Public Justice has been instrumental in protecting students’ rights to learn, free of sexual harassment and retaliation,” said Public Justice Staff Attorney Sean Ouellette, who joined the organization last month and was previously an attorney at Sanford Heisler Sharp. “I am thrilled to be able to leverage their expertise on behalf of such deserving clients.”

According to the complaint, Harvard ignored numerous warning signs about Professor Comaroff, including prior Title IX complaints, which enabled him to sexually harass Ms. Kilburn and to upend the careers of Ms. Czerwienski, Ms. Kilburn, and Ms. Mandava. When the plaintiffs lodged Title IX complaints with Harvard’s Office for Dispute Resolution, the university’s investigation issued limited findings that downplayed the gravity of the conduct alleged. All of this, plaintiffs allege, was due to failings in Harvard’s Title IX process, which is designed to protect star faculty and allows Harvard to downplay credible accounts of sexual misconduct. All three plaintiffs allege that after they made complaints, they were isolated in their academic fields and faced retaliation from Harvard. They argue that Harvard’s conduct violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and various Massachusetts statutes.

“We look forward to joining forces with Public Justice, and together, we hope to hold Harvard accountable for its actions,” said Carolin Guentert, partner at Sanford Heisler Sharp and counsel to the plaintiffs. “This is an important reminder of the significance of this case, not only for the rights of students at Harvard, but for the rights of students across the country to be free from professional retaliation for opposing conduct prohibited by Title IX.”

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, 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.

For the latest news about Sanford Heisler Sharp, visit the firm’s newsroom or follow the firm on FacebookLinkedIn, or Twitter.

If you have potential legal claims and are seeking counsel, please call 646-768-7070 or email [email protected]. Attorneys at Sanford Heisler Sharp would like to have the opportunity to help you.

About Public Justice

Public Justice is a national public interest advocacy organization that fights against abusive corporate power and predatory practices, the assault on civil rights and liberties, and the destruction of the earth’s sustainability. Public Justice specializes in connecting high-impact litigation with strategic communications and the strength of its partnerships to fight these abusive and discriminatory systems and win social and economic justice.

For more information, contact Jamie Moss, newsPRos, at 201-788-0142 or [email protected].