A former UC San Francisco doctoral researcher Wednesday filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment by a prominent tobacco control activist and tenured UCSF professor Stanton Glantz that spanned nearly two years.
The lawsuit also alleges that Glantz retaliated against his former mentee, Eunice Neeley, after she complained about him to the university’s administration by removing Neeley’s name from a research paper.
Neeley accused Glantz of consistent inappropriate behavior that included staring at her body, making comments directed at Neeley referencing sex, making sexual remarks about other women to Neeley while at the workplace, and making racist remarks about Neeley, who is black.
The UCSF Board of Regents is named as a defendant in the lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court for allegedly failing to take action against Glantz after Neeley notified the university about the harassment.
A spokesperson for the university declined to comment about the allegations, citing UCSF policy that prohibits comment on “pending litigation or active investigations,” but said that an internal investigation is pending.
In March, Neeley requested a new mentor, but claims that the harassment continued. After UCSF notified Glantz of its investigation against him, Neeley alleges that her former advisor insisted on being named as an author of her work, and ultimately removed her name from a research paper that he took credit for.
Neeley claims that the university’s failure to protect her and other women from the ongoing harassment “forced out of her job” in June.
According to Neeley’s lawyer, Kelly Armstrong, Glantz is a current employee of UCSF. He rose to prominence for his research on the effects of secondhand smoke on the heart, and has authored numerous publications on secondhand smoke and tobacco control.
Neeley purports that Glantz used his tenure to intimidate his students from reporting his sexual harassment and emotional abuse. According to the lawsuit, Glantz was known to have told multiple students that as a tenured professor, “You can rape the vice chancellor’s daughter and still have a job.”
According to the lawsuit, Neeley was subjected to unwanted sexual advances during her first contact with Glantz, who interviewed her for a position with UCSF’s Center for Tobacco Research and Education in September 2015.
During the initial job interview, Neeley noticed that Glantz allegedly smiled while spending “several seconds leering at her chest” — a behavior that continued throughout Neely’s two-year employment at UCSF, according to the lawsuit.
In the lawsuit, Neeley details harassment that occured in November or December 2016, while she was alone with Glantz in a dimly lit room. Neeley alleges that Glantz began describing an orgy scene from a movie that featured a black main character, and assumed that Neeley would be familiar with the movie because of her ethnicity.
Neeley claims that other female employees were also targeted by Glantz, and complained to Neeley that “the leering made them uncomfortable.”
The lawsuit alleges that the university was made aware of Glantz’s misconduct but failed to “take meaningful action to protect Neeley and other females from further sexual harassment.”
Armstrong said that Neeley wasn’t the only victim of Glantz’s misconduct.
“We believe there are multiple witnesses and victims to the sexual harassment by Glantz,” she said.
Armstrong said that Neeley suffered “significant emotional distress” due to her former advisor’s “egregious conduct.”
While declining to specify the damages that Neeley is seeking, Armstrong said the number is “significant.”