Science Insider quotes Swinton on repeat faculty sexual harassment

It’s not clear exactly how to make sure a university is alerted to a job candidate’s past violations, said Daniel Swinton, a lawyer and managing partner at the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, which advises universities on issues including Title IX.

Often a university doesn’t know when an employee is applying to work elsewhere, so they wouldn’t know to disclose the information, he told ScienceInsider. Also, universities are often loath to release details of a person’s personnel record. State employment laws frequently restrict disclosure of such information, and universities are gun shy of potential lawsuits, Swinton said. Universities already have the option of noting disciplinary actions on student transcripts, he noted, but many don’t.

One possible option is to require the hiring institution to ask recent employers and references about any disciplinary action or Title IX violations, Swinton said. But he predicted any federal efforts to open up personnel files would face legal challenges by groups representing employees. And if violations were disclosed, he predicts that the disclosure would almost certainly not include a complete investigator’s report.

“A few sentences is what I think most institutions would be willing to do,” Swinton said. “And that’s not being chicken. That’s just the world we live in.”

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