Trinity College has been hit with a sexual discrimination lawsuit by a male campus safety dispatcher who said a male supervisor sexually harassed him.
In the federal lawsuit, filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court of the District of Connecticut, Thomas Cashman claims the Hartford-based college didn’t do enough to stop the alleged harassment. He alleges systemic discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environment and retaliation.
Cashman, who still works at the college, says he was demoted from campus safety officer because he complained to several people about his supervisor, Brian Killian. He’s been employed with Trinity since December 2013.
“Typically, people perceive sexual harassment to be male on female,” Cashman’s attorney, Hartford-based solo practitioner James Brewer, told the Connecticut Law Tribune Thursday. “In this case, I think Trinity totally mishandled it. Instead of removing Killian after he admitted the misconduct, they let him come back, and at the same time, they were pressuring my client to leave. He became the subject of retaliation, and that’s not right.”
Brewer said he’s seeking more than $100,000 in pre- and post-judgment interest, back pay and front pay, which compensates for income lost during the period between judgment and reinstatement.
Killian no longer works at the college, but was supervisor of campus safety. He could not be reached for comment, and no attorney has entered an appearance on his behalf. It is not clear if his departure from Trinity is linked to Cashman.
Trinity College has not assigned an attorney to the case. Kathy Andrews, director of media relations and community outreach for the college, declined to comment.
Cashman alleges violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
On two occasions—once in June 2016 and again in October 2016—the complaint alleges Killian asked Cashman to look at him while he performed “offensive and disgusting” behavior. It’s alleged Killian put his hands down his own pants while moving his fingers back and forth, stimulating a moving penis.
Cashman said he told college personnel about the first incident. He said they assured him the behavior was a violation of the institution’s sexual harassment policy and wouldn’t be tolerated. After Killian allegedly did the same thing four months later, Cashman filed a complaint with Timothy Dunn, the college’s Title IX coordinator who oversees anti-discrimination efforts.
The lawsuit says Dunn promised an investigation, and that school officials would order Killian to avoid contact with Cashman. That order was not enforced, according to the complaint.
Cashman became physically ill because of the alleged harassment, and the college granted him a leave of absence following the October 2016 incident, according to the complaint. But when he returned to work the following month, he said the college refused to allow him to work as a campus safety officer, despite a recent promotion.
Instead, Cashman claimed the college demoted him to safety dispatcher, citing his “aggressive attitude.”
“The denial of this position was in retaliation for his complaints of sexual harassment,” the lawsuit claimed.
Meanwhile, the college’s disciplinary committee met and decided to fire Killian, according to the complaint. But the group changed direction after Trinity Vice President Joseph DiChristina intervened on Killian’s behalf at the hearing, the complaint claims. Instead of firing Killian, the committee suspended him for two weeks and barred him from holding the supervising officer post for one year.
Cashman claims Killian continued to interact with him, despite assurances the college would prevent this. His complaint cites an incident in August 2017, when Killian allegedly walked over to him and smirked, causing Cashman to have a panic attack.
The suit claims other colleagues made disparaging remarks, and one sergeant sent out a departmentwide email calling Cashman a “disgruntled employee.”
The lawsuit cites five counts: sexual harassment, retaliation, violation of the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The case is pending before Judge Warren Eginton in Bridgeport.