UCC starts disciplinary action over sexual harassment posts

Wed, May 19, 2010, 01:00

UNIVERSITY COLLEGE Cork has begun disciplinary procedures against a lecturer over the posting of confidential material on the web relating to a complaint of sexual harassment made against him by a female colleague.

Authorities at UCC wrote to Dr Dylan Evans, a lecturer in behavioural science at the school of medicine, yesterday to advise him that they are initiating disciplinary procedures over the posting of confidential material on the web.

It’s understood the action follows the posting of a complaint of sexual harassment made by a female member of staff about Dr Evans, a report into the complaint and correspondence about the matter from UCC president Dr Michael Murphy.

A UCC spokesman yesterday refused to comment on whether disciplinary proceedings have been initiated against Dr Evans but earlier this week, the university issued a statement condemning the publication of material relating to the case.

UCC said it viewed “with the utmost gravity” the fact that confidential material concerning an internal allegation of sexual harassment was posted to various social media platforms in contravention of university policy and well-established procedure.

“It is imperative, in the interests of fairness to all sides involved, and for such procedures to work effectively, that the university and the parties to procedures of this nature maintain the confidentiality that governs them,” said the university in its statement issued on Monday.

Failure to respect the confidentiality impinges on the rights of staff who feel it necessary to make a complaint about a colleague while it may also deter staff who wish to take such action in the future, the university added.

Dr Evans last night confirmed that he had received a letter by email from UCC head of human resources Adrian Grey informing him that Dr Murphy had decided to convene a disciplinary hearing committee.

The letter stated that the committee would conduct a disciplinary hearing into his “apparent involvement” in disclosing confidential information to the media. Dr Evans said he was taking legal advice on the matter.

Dr Evans had earlier denied to The Irish Timesthat he had started an online petition seeking support for the overturning of earlier sanctions imposed by Dr Murphy. He said he suspected a friend was behind the petition but he had tried to protect the friend’s identity by passing it off as his own.