Harvard professor suspended for 'unwelcome sexual conduct'

Harvard professor suspended for 'unwelcome sexual conduct'
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Harvard University suspended economics professor Roland Fryer for two years and shut down the research lab he oversees on Wednesday following multiple accusations of sexual harassment.

A review of the allegations concluded that Fryer engaged in "unwelcome sexual conduct toward several individuals, resulting in the creation of a hostile work environment over the course of several years," Claudine Gay, dean of the university's Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS), wrote in a letter to the economics department obtained by multiple outlets.

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Gay wrote that Fryer would be placed on unpaid administrative leave and the Education Innovation Laboratory (EdLabs), the site of many of the harassment allegations, would be shut down.

"In short, Professor Fryer exhibited a pattern of behavior that failed to meet expectations of conduct within our community and was harmful to the well-being of its members," Gay said. "I was particularly upset to learn of the ways in which EdLabs members have been impacted, both personally and professionally. The totality of these behaviors is a clear violation of institutional norms and a betrayal of the trust of the FAS community."

The announcement comes more than a year after multiple investigations were launched by Harvard's Office for Dispute Resolution into allegations against Fryer.

If he chooses to return after the suspension, Fryer will be barred from “advising or supervisory roles,” and his teaching will be restricted. 

Fryer, one of the highest profile African American economists in the U.S., did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

In a 2018 letter to The New York Times editor, Fryer apologized for making "off-color jokes" around lab employees and commented on their dating lives.

"If anyone who worked at the lab ever felt alienated, confused or offended by the environment, I sincerely apologize," he wrote.