Judge gives final approval to $14 million PBS settlement

by Lauren Adler | 7/17/20 2:38pm

by Michael Lin / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

On July 14, federal judge Landya McCafferty gave final approval to the $14 million settlement in the class action sexual harassment lawsuit against Dartmouth. The settlement’s approval follows a fairness hearing held last week during which the judge heard statements from three of the nine plaintiffs named in the case to determine the fairness of the settlement.

The lawsuit was originally filed in November 2018 by seven plaintiffs, who alleged that three former professors in the psychological and brain sciences department had engaged in sexual misconduct for several years and that the College did not act on allegations made against them. The College reached an out-of-court settlement with the class in August that was preliminarily approved in January.

The settlement will be awarded to the class of 74 women, an unusually large class for a sexual harassment lawsuit. The class is defined in the settlement as women who worked in the department or with the professors as graduate or undergraduate students over a period of several years and who “will attest that they experienced dignitary, emotional, educational and/or professional harm during this period as a result of the misconduct of one or more of the Three Former Professors.”

About $5.1 million of the settlement funds will go towards attorney’s fees and other administrative costs of the lawsuit, and each named plaintiff will receive a $75,000 award for their contributions to the case. The remainder of the $14 million will be distributed to members of the class in amounts determined by an independent party based on the harm endured by each member. After those amounts are determined, any remaining funds will be given to the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

As part of the settlement, Dartmouth has also committed to implementing reforms such as those stated in the Campus Climate and Culture Initiative, which include expanding its partnership with WISE, a local organization that provides supports to survivors of gender-based violence, and expanding the use of the provost’s diversity recruitment fund to support the hiring of faculty who have experience in gender-based discrimination and violence.