The lawsuit between Elizabeth Williams and Binghamton University has been settled.
Williams, a former major gifts officer for Binghamton athletics, will receive $280,000 from BU and the state of New York in a settlement. She will keep $140,000 after legal fees, which is more than twice what her salary was, at $61,800.
Williams accused two athletic department officials of sexual harassment.
Louis DiLorenzo, a New York City labor lawyer who represented BU, said the majority of the money, $218,200, is provided by the New York State Comptroller, while the remainder of $61,800, comes from BU through the payroll division.
Williams filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in March 2009, alleging sexual harassment.
Four months later, she filed a federal suit in U.S. District Court against BU; Jason Siegel, senior associate athletic director; Chris Lewis, associate athletic director for development; and two BU alumni who attended a fundraiser in Manhattan in January 2009.
Williams accused Siegel and Lewis of making inappropriate advances toward her during school fundraising events.
According to a report from the Press & Sun-Bulletin, one example of Williams’ accusations was said to occur at a University fundraising dinner in New York with Siegel and Lewis. At the dinner, one of the BU alumni present began putting $100 bills on the table and told her to stop him when there were enough in the pile for her to sleep with him and his wife.
On October 19, the case’s defendants motioned to have it moved from the Southern district of New York to the Northern district. According to DiLorenzo, it was during the next few months while waiting for the decision that the defendants began having meetings with the plaintiff in an effort to resolve the case without a trial.
They agreed on the settlement with a condition being that Williams resign her position, and according to the settlement, she will ‘not apply or reapply for employment at SUNY Binghamton, the Research Foundation at Binghamton, any of the Binghamton Foundations affiliated with SUNY Binghamton on the SUNY Binghamton campus.’
‘Put yourselves in our position,’ DiLorenzo said. ‘If she didn’t resign, even after the retaliation claim was resolved, she could just have claimed it again if she was still working there. In order to get some finality, we thought this was necessary.’
DiLorenzo said that these types of cases do not have a specific formula and this was the best option after considering the cost of moving forward.
All accusations have been dropped and both Siegel and Lewis remain employed by the University.
According to a statement released by Siegel and Lewis, the University’s report found the claim to include false and unsupported charges. But now that it is over, they look forward to putting the issue behind them.
‘We will continue to focus our energy on the management of a strong athletic department and the enhancement of the experience of our student-athletes,’ the statement read.
Williams is also pleased with the outcome.
According to a statement sent by her counsel at Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard, P.C., ‘[Williams] hopes and believes ‘ that it will send a message. She is looking forward to moving on to the next chapter in her life.’
‘ Aaron Axelson contributed to this report