Stanford Report Online

Stanford Report, September 27, 2000
Debra Zumwalt speaks on discrimination, retaliation

Debra Zumwalt, Stanford's acting general counsel, discussed "Allegations of Discrimination and Retaliation at Stanford" yesterday during a lunchtime talk organized by the Women's Interchange (WIS) at SLAC.

Zumwalt spoke generally about discrimination issues, noting that during John Hennessy's first press conference as president-elect last spring, he stressed that the university has "zero tolerance" for discrimination.

Zumwalt also provided updates on two pending situations. The university has filed a notice of appeal concerning a case brought by former Medical School researcher Colleen Crangle, she said. While a case filed by Crangle charging discrimination was dismissed by the court, a jury awarded her $545,000 last March after finding that she was subjected to retaliation in 1997 for complaining about alleged sex discrimination. "Stanford believes there were serious errors made by the trial judge," Zumwalt said. It could take one to two years before the appeal is heard, she added.

Zumwalt also said that the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) is continuing an investigation of alleged discrimination against female faculty and staff that could take several years to resolve. Press accounts have reported that in November 1998 more than a dozen women brought the original complaint against Stanford, and that the number increased to 32 women and a few minority men but has since dropped as people have left the university, settled out of court or withdrawn their complaints. Zumwalt said that the university has been notified of only nine complainants. The OFCCP has released few details about the ongoing investigation.

Zumwalt said that the OFCCP, which is part of the Department of Labor, also is auditing the university for compliance with government rules concerning affirmative action.

WIS was formed in 1991 to provide an open, informal forum to address issues of concern to women. Zumwalt told the audience of about 30 that individuals with concerns about discrimination should raise them, and that the university will shield complainants from retaliation.