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UCSD chancellor and former executive reach settlement in discrimination lawsuit

UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla
UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla
(File)

Former UCSD Associate Vice Chancellor Jean Ford filed the lawsuit last year, contending that Chancellor Pradeep Khosla was abusive toward her and other female employees, interfered with her work and retaliated against her when she voiced her concerns

A settlement has been reached in a gender and age discrimination lawsuit brought against UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla and the University of California Board of Regents by a former fundraising executive who alleged she was wrongfully fired and mistreated by Khosla.

Former UCSD Associate Vice Chancellor Jean Ford contended that despite raising millions of dollars for the health sciences program, Khosla was abusive toward her and other female employees, interfered with her work and retaliated against her when she brought up her concerns.

Former UCSD Associate Vice Chancellor Jean Ford
Former UCSD Associate Vice Chancellor Jean Ford
(Courtesy of Jean Ford)

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

According to a statement agreed to by the parties, Ford, the UC regents and Khosla “have amicably resolved all claims between the parties, with none of the three admitting any wrongdoing. As UCSD faces unprecedented operational challenges as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, and mandated court closures further compound litigation delays, each party agreed that an expedient resolution would be in the best interest of all involved during these extraordinary times.”

The lawsuit, filed last year in San Diego County Superior Court, alleged that less than a year after Ford started working at UCSD, Khosla assigned a younger, less-qualified male supervisor to oversee her work. She alleged the supervisor had little direct fundraising experience, while she possessed more than two decades of experience in the field.

In addition, Ford said, Khosla treated female employees — particularly those older than 40 — much more harshly than their male counterparts. Five women other than Ford — each older than 40 — were either fired or forced out of their positions by Khosla, according to her lawsuit.

Ford said in the lawsuit that after she spoke to Khosla directly about her concerns, he sabotaged her fundraising efforts and made disparaging remarks about her to her co-workers, subordinates and donors, hurting her reputation during her time at UCSD and after she was fired in August 2018.

Ford said she was told she was fired for sharing her computer password with her assistant and allowing the assistant to take an online course for her. Ford alleged in her suit that password sharing was a common practice at UCSD and that the assistant took the course without her knowledge. ◆