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Photo by Clancy O'Dessky

UCLA has responded to a professor’s lawsuit alleging she suffered disparate treatment as a woman, saying the university does not tolerate discrimination or harassment.

Jennifer Walske also alleges retaliation for complaining that female faculty members were subjected to disparate treatment by the business school administration.

Walske’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, filed Friday against the UC Regents, alleges gender discrimination, harassment, retaliation, hostile work environment, failure to prevent discrimination and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

“Discrimination or harassment in any form is antithetical to our values at UCLA,” according to a UCLA statement regarding the suit. “Because this case involves confidential personnel matters, we cannot comment further.”

Walske’s suit claims that she is the latest in a long line of faculty and staff who have been retaliated against for coming forward with legitimate complaints of discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

“In Dr. Walske’s case, UCLA and its agents not only retaliated against her for reporting the discrimination and harassment, but also, when she reported the retaliation, the university doubled down and retaliated against her even further.”

Walske is an award-winning professor and in 2018, she was recruited by UCLA’s Anderson School of Management from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley to be an adjunct assistant professor, as well as roles as interim faculty director for Impact@Anderson, an academic center promoting equity and sustainability through social impact work, and as a research fellow in the Price Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the suit states.

She moved with her family to Los Angeles to begin what she thought would be a rewarding, long-term relationship with UCLA and the Anderson School, according to the suit.

“Regrettably, however, not long after she arrived on campus, like other female faculty within UCLA Anderson, Dr. Walske experienced gender discrimination and a hostile work environment,” the suit states.

Walske reported, among other things, that her immediate supervisor, UCLA Anderson School’s then-Interim Dean, Alfred Osborne Jr., made inappropriate gender-related comments to her, treated male faculty more favorably and appeared to be engaged in an improper relationship with a female subordinate, resulting in a hostile work environment for those female faculty and staff who were not in a relationship with him, the suit states.

“But rather than addressing the actions and behaviors that were the subject of Dr. Walske’s complaints, UCLA retaliated against her,” according to the suit.

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