Harassment Suit Against a Stanford Dean Is Rejected


Mr. Phills, who was dismissed by Stanford in 2014, argued in court papers that Mr. Saloner punished him to benefit his new girlfriend. Mr. Phills, who is black, said he also had been “subjected to discriminatory actions with respect to his compensation, work assignments and benefits based on his marital status, race and gender.”

Mr. Saloner, who has been on sabbatical for the past year, said through a spokeswoman, “I am gratified that the truth in this matter has been recognized by the court.”

Mr. Phills, who now works at Apple, declined to comment on the ruling. But his lawyer, Andrew F. Pierce, said his client was not giving up.

“The case raises novel issues about the definition of marital status discrimination and in particular whether it applies to marital separations of co-workers,” he said. “It also raises novel issues regarding a university’s responsibility to protect faculty from administrators who have reason to recuse themselves.”

Mr. Pierce added that “we will be exploring all avenues of review at the trial and appellate levels.”

Stanford said the judge’s ruling was proof the case never had any merit. “It is unfortunate that the system allows plaintiffs to file and publicize sensational and baseless claims, causing long-term harm that cannot be undone years later, even with a complete victory such as this one,” said Lisa Lapin, a spokeswoman for the university.

Whatever the final disposition of Mr. Phills’ case, it did reveal problems at Stanford that the university was forced to acknowledge. In an interview with The New York Times in the fall of 2015, John Etchemendy, then Stanford’s provost, acknowledged “weaknesses in management” and said they were being addressed.

“We have very high standards of behavior and for the most part achieve them better than any other institution I know,” he said. “But we sometimes fall short.”

One post-lawsuit development: For the first time, two of the four senior associate deans at Stanford’s business school are women. Another: The business school is no longer No. 1. In the latest U.S. News rankings, it has slipped to a three-way tie for fourth.

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