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UC San Diego, Chancellor Sued for Wrongful Termination

A former associate vice chancellor at the University of California, San Diego is suing the university, its regents and chancellor Pradeep Khosla for wrongful termination, according to Team 10 News.

The lawsuit, filed by Jean E. Ford in San Diego Superior Court on June 3, alleges chancellor Khosla of harassment, making disparaging comments to female employees and interfering with their work. It further alleges Khosla of discriminating against women on the basis of their age and gender.

Referencing a specific incident, the lawsuit states that Khosla once commented that the only reason Ford wore heels was to show her ‘taut calves.’ The lawsuit claims that he would also often speak over women, mock and humiliate them, and demean their contributions.

“Khosla became very angry with (Ford) when she reported on a $300 million estate gift she was working to secure from another donor, asking her why he should accept the gift since it would likely be realized after his tenure was over, even though he approved the strategy to secure the gift and told (Ford) to make it happen,” the lawsuit states.

“If a male donor complained about something, Khosla demanded that the issue immediately be addressed. If a female donor complained, Khosla would comment that she was just being difficult.”

The suit also alleges university regents of not doing enough to stop Khosla from creating a hostile environment against female employees.

In August 2018, Ford was fired for unsatisfactory performance and supposedly sharing her computer password with an assistant to take an online course on her behalf. Ford has disputed these claims and those that her performance was below par while working as chief fundraiser for university’s health sciences program.

“My client has been a successful fundraiser for 25 years. She was recruited to UCSD to transform the Health Sciences Advancement office, and UCSD Health had their most successful fundraising year of almost $150M under Ms. Ford’s leadership,” Kristina Larsen, Ford’s attorney, said.

“Still, Khosla questioned her decisions, undermined her leadership, sabotaged her work, and viciously disparaged her to others in the small San Diego fundraising community.”

Without making specific comments on the pending lawsuit, a university spokesperson said that the school is committed to making its campus discrimination and harassment-free.

“UC San Diego has only recently become aware of the complaint, which has not yet been served on the University,” the university said in a statement to Team 10 News. “UC San Diego and Chancellor Khosla strongly condemn all forms of intimidation, harassment and discrimination and are committed to fostering a climate that is supportive of our students, staff and faculty. The University will review the complaint and respond appropriately.”

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