The University of New Brunswick says they were unaware of allegations of sexism, harassment and threats of violence against their new dean of law, Jeremy Levitt, when they hired him.
Two female professors and former colleagues of Levitt from Florida A&M University College of Law filed lawsuits against the Florida law school, which made allegations of sexism, harassment and even threats of violence by the dean, according to documents obtained by the CBC.
UNB denies any knowledge of these allegations during Levitt’s hiring process.
“As with the hiring of any new dean at UNB, there was a thorough hiring process headed by a search committee … The process included an industry-standard background check by an independent personnel agency. In this case, the agency’s background check returned nothing of concern,” said UNB spokesman David Stonehouse in an emailed statement to the Brunswickan.
Levitt recently took a leave of absence after only four months at UNB. It was only one part of a tumultuous year for the law school, which has seen several professors absent because of medical leaves and illness as well as the resignation of associate dean Janet Austin.
In a statement to the CBC, Levitt denied the allegations, saying, “The unproven and malicious allegations were filed by disgruntled former and current employees and contain entirely false, regurgitated, distorted and defamatory claims that were, to my knowledge, dismissed by the university years ago.”
Levitt also said that the Florida lawsuits are “largely” pay-equity claims against the university and “have nothing to do with my leave of absence from UNB.”
Florida A&M University College of Law has also denied the allegations.
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that allegations against Levitt included sexual harassment. This was based on information gleaned from the cited CBC article, which has since been amended. The court documents do not contain any reference to sexual harassment.