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Professor refuses harassment training

November 6, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
A local college professor is under fire, facing sharp criticism and the possible loss of his job for refusing to take sexual harassment prevention training.Dr. Alexander McPherson has helped carry out more than 20 experiments in space. The 64-year-old biologist has also generated millions of dollars in research money during his 11 years at UCI.

But McPherson says his job may be at risk for refusing to take sexual harassment training.

"I am simply offended that the state believes that they can say to an individual at the university, 'You must have sexual harassment training, or you're going to lose your job.' That is what they have essentially done," said McPherson.

State law require businesses employing 50 or more people to have supervisors go through sexual harassment prevention training.

McPherson says the university routinely provides written information he does not need training.

McPherson says he feels by taking the course it casts a shadow on his reputation and career when he has never been accused of sexual harassment.

"I think he should just take it. There is nothing wrong with just taking it. I doesn't mean that he does it. If it is a requirement for everybody then why not," said student, Roby Sigual.

"I think he should just take it because I do not think it is worth losing his job," said student, Diana Salazar.

McPherson says that he has tried reaching a compromise with the university. He has asked officials for a letter.

"Just simply provide me with that clarification, saying that I am under no suspicion or guilt whatsoever, and I'll take your sexual harassment training," said McPherson.

So far the university has told him that they will not provide such a letter.

UCI officials are not commenting on McPherson's case. They say that it is a personnel matter. Officials say that 97-percent of staff who supervise at UCI have taken the training as required by state law.

McPherson, who makes nearly $150K annually, says he has until next Wednesday to take the training. He is not sure what the university will do after that.


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