N.Y. AG files sexual harrassment suit

Keith Loria Mar. 4, 2011, 3:33pm

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced on Friday that he has filed a lawsuit against a mortuary school and its president for allegedly engaging in sexual harassment of female students and pregnancy discrimination.

The Simmons Institute of Funeral Services and Maurice Wightman, its president and CEO, allegedly have a long history of sexually harassing female students and discriminating against pregnant women.

"This mortuary science program is one of only a handful in the state, leaving students with very few options to pursue their chosen field of study," Schneiderman said.

"The law guarantees everyone the right to pursue an education and career free of discrimination and harassment. My office will not tolerate women being shut out of educational or employment opportunities due to sexual harassment or discrimination."

Schneiderman's office was alerted to the alleged actions by numerous complaints that were filed against the school.

The lawsuit alleges that Wightman engaged in a pattern of illegal sexual harassment of female students for several years while teaching and serving in his administrative capacity. Among his alleged infractions were touching, hugging and making sexual propositions towards students.

The suit further alleges that the school maintained a discriminatory policy that excluded all pregnant women from various components of the program without consulting with the employee or having cause to do so.

State law requires an equal opportunity in education and employment. Under Title IX, it is unlawful for an institution receiving federal funds to engage in sexual discrimination in education.

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