Amsterdam Univ. ignored sexual harassment by lecturer for years

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Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences logoPhoto: M.Minderhoud / Wikimedia Commons

The Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences ignored complaints about a lecturer intimidating and sexually harassing students for years, the Amsterdam District Court said in a court report published on Wednesday, Het Parool reports.

The university wanted to terminate the lecturer, who has been working in the Digital Media and Creative Industries faculty since 2006, based on a complaint received from a student in February last year. According to the student, the lecturer "flipped out" during her internship review. She had said that she learned more during her internship than at school. The lecturer then shouted at her that this was an insult to him and his colleagues. The student also reported that the lecturer often made inappropriate jokes.

Further investigation revealed that the first complaint about this lecturer dates back to 2012. Back then a student reported that he told her to go "play with her cunt" after she objected to failing to complete two courses. Nothing was done about the complaint, the lecturer wasn't even informed about it.

The university did inform him about a number of anonymous complaints, including that he said: "If I give you a hard slap on the shoulder, will your tampon fall out?" He denied making this and other statements, and the university did nothing further with the complaints.

Only after the complaint in 2017 did the university decide to suspend the lecturer. His suspension was extended several times and eventually he was suspended indefinitely. An investigation was launched, carried out by an independent consultancy firm.

The court ruled that the lecturer's employment can be terminated as of March 1st, 2018. This is not on the basis of the complaints, but on the basis of a disrupted employment relationship. As a result the lecturer is entitled to over 55 thousand euros in severance pay, according to the newspaper. The court also ruled that the university handled the complaints procedure so badly that the lecturer is entitled to another 10 thousand euros in compensation. 

The Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences regrets the state of affairs, a spokesperson said to Het Parool. "This is partly in the feedback to employees, but also in dealing with anonymous complaints. This ruling helps with that."