Columbia University Sexual Harassment Case

Case name: Ravina v. Columbia University

Case type: Sexual Harassment / Retaliation

Filed in: [United States District Court for the Southern District of New York]

Docket: [1:16-CV-02137]

Case Summary

In 2018, Sanford Heisler Sharp won one of the first major trials of the #MeToo era, brought by Columbia junior faculty member Enrichetta Ravina against Columbia University and one of its senior professors, Geert Bekaert. 

The Complaint alleged that Professor Bekaert sexually harassed Professor Ravina and then blocked her research progress after she spurned his advances. The Complaint further alleged that Columbia University retaliated against Professor Ravina after she made repeated complaints against Professor Bekaert. 

After a lengthy trial, the jury found Columbia and Professor Bekaert liable for retaliating against Professor Ravina and issued a $1.25 million verdict in favor of Professor Ravina.

The case heightened public awareness about the dynamics of sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace and spurred calls to action—within academia and beyond—to implement stronger institutional protections. Commentators observed that “the academic world, and especially the economic and finance profession, can learn immensely” from the case, and that “[t]his verdict should send a message, not just to academia, but to all employers.”