Supposedly, It all started with an app. A "hookup" app, to be exact. Ph.D. student Alberto Leguina was at work when he received a curious message on the app. A man wanted to know if he was interested in seeing older men. Uninterested in the elder folk, Leguina ignored the message. Shortly thereafter, according to Leguina, another message, this time accompanied by a picture of his boss, Qais Al-Awqati, arrived in his inbox, reports the Columbia Spectator.
For those unfamiliar with Grindr, it's an app that allows gentlemen, with either a same sex preference or a bisexual orientation, to connect to other nearby gentlemen via their GPS-enabled smart phone. The app boasts more than 4 million guys in 192 countries around the world. One presumes that the nearest man to the much older professor was his 25-year-old assistant, as he was allegedly hitting on Leguina from the next room.
Shortly after rejecting the offer, Al-Awqati allegedly ran into the room and screamed, "You are out!"
Of course, the tale didn't end there. Leguina wasn't fired. After discussing the matter with human resources, Leguina was kept on staff for about three months. During that time, he claims he was alienated from coworkers and given a MacBook as an apology by the lecherous lecturer. Meanwhile, HR continued to delay in filing a formal complaint. In June, Leguina received word from his home university in Chile that his assignment had been terminated because his work was unsatisfactory, reports the Spectator.
By now, the three magic words "sexual harassment lawsuit" should be ringing in your ears. Bosses are obviously not allowed to terminate their subordinates' employment or make other negative employment related decisions based on a rejection (or acceptance) of sexual advances.
Of course, this is all based on one side of the story. Should the case not settle, the issue will likely revolve around the quality of Leguina's work. It is not illegal (though it is stupid) to try to sleep with your employees. If Al-Awqati merely tried to sleep with this assistant as alleged, then, by coincidence, was unhappy with the quality of his work, then the termination was completely above board and legal.
Both the professor, and Columbia University, will likely claim that his work was substandard and that he was terminated solely on the basis of his job performance. It's a classic case of he said, he said.
- Consult a New York Personal Injury Attorney (FindLaw)
- The Alberto Leguina's Case against Columbia University and Qais Al-Awqati (Alberto Leguina's Blog)
- Right to Refuse? Gay Couple Gets Wedding Reception Rejection (FindLaw's New York Personal Injury Law Blog)
- Sexual Harassment (FindLaw's LawBrain)