Gender discrimination case settled

A sexual discrimination suit brought against the University and an associate dean has been settled out of court, GW Director of Public Affairs Mike Freedman said.

Former international communications Professor Eileen Mahoney sued the University and Columbian School of Arts and Sciences Dean Christopher Sterling, claiming the school denied her tenure in 1995 because of her gender.

The case was scheduled to be heard in D.C. Superior Court last Thursday, but an agreement was reached hours before it went to court, according to a source close to the case.

“The case has been settled to the satisfaction of all parties,” Freedman said. He said the lawsuits against the University and Sterling have been dismissed “with prejudice,” so Mahoney cannot refile charges.

The terms of the deal are confidential, said attorneys on both sides of the case. The litigants are considering a joint statement outlining the agreement, said Mahoney’s attorney, Thomas J. Gagliardo, of the Silver Spring, Md., firm of Gagliardo and Zipin.

Mahoney claimed in her lawsuit she did not receive tenure in the National Center for Communication Studies – now the School of Media and Public Affairs – after she did not vote with Sterling on a key departmental issue.

“The whole thing was very unfortunate and took a whole lot of time on everybody’s part,” Sterling said.

Sterling said he was limited in his comments because of the confidentiality agreement that was part of the settlement. The University will not discipline him as a result of the settlement, Sterling said.

According to a press release from the American Association of University Women, which financed Mahoney’s lawsuit, Sterling admitted in a deposition that he made several derisive remarks about women. He referred to the mostly female-staffed radio and television program, in which Mahoney taught, as “a hen house.”

“Most of those comments were either taken out of context or were never said,” Sterling said. “None of them referred to Professor Mahoney.”

Mahoney was unavailable for comment.

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