United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION GRANTING EMRI SELI'S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [DKT. NO. 62] AND GRANTING IN
PART AND DENYING IN PART YALE UNIVERSITY'S MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT [DKT. NO. 63]
Vanessa L. Bryant United States District Judge.
before the Court are Defendants Emri Seli's
(“Seli”) and Yale University's
(“Yale”) motions for summary judgment as to all
pending claims. Plaintiff Asli Uyar brings this case under
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §
2000e, et seq., alleging that Yale is vicariously liable for
sexual harassment perpetrated by Seli. Plaintiff also
initially raised claims for Title VII retaliation and common
law negligent supervision against Yale and defamation and
invasion of privacy against Seli. However, she has not
opposed summary judgment on any of these claims.
Consequently, the Court GRANTS Seli's Motion for Summary
Judgment in full, and GRANTS Yale's Motion for Summary
Judgment as to the retaliation and negligent supervision
claims. For the reasons that follow, the Court DENIES
Yale's motion as to Plaintiff's sexual harassment
is a Turkish national with a Ph.D. in computer science. [Dkt.
No. 41 ¶¶ 4-5]. Seli is a Professor of Obstetrics
and Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the Yale School
of Medicine. Id. ¶ 7. Plaintiff first met Seli
in Turkey where they discussed possible post-doctoral
opportunities for Plaintiff. [Pl. Dep. at 50-51]. Plaintiff
joined Yale on August 17, 2011 as a Post-Doctoral Fellow in
Seli's laboratory, and she was granted a visa to work in
the United States in this position. [Def. Exh. B; Def. Exh. C
at YALE 000283-84; Def. Exh. E].
2013, Plaintiff received a second one-year appointment from
Yale as a Post-Doctoral Associate, with a salary of $46,
686.70. [Def. Exh. E; Def. Exh. F]. While Plaintiff's
position was initially funded by a grant from an organization
in Turkey, by 2013-2014, Plaintiff's position was
entirely funded by grants obtained and controlled by Seli.
[Pl. Exh. A at 4]. Seli had complete discretion to hire a
post-doctoral researcher and also decided whether to renew a
post-doctoral researcher's position. [Taylor Dep. at
roles as a Post-Doctoral Fellow and Post-Doctoral Associate,
Plaintiff performed bioinformatics research in the area of
early embryo genetics in Seli's laboratory. [Def. Exh. C
at YALE 000283-84; Dkt. No. 41 ¶ 6]. Seli was
Plaintiff's Principal Investigator, but her field of
study was distinct from his, and she worked largely
unsupervised. [Pl. Dep. at 99, 177; Seli Dep. at 18-23]. Seli
was physically present in his lab very rarely as he had both
teaching and clinical responsibilities for which he was
responsible. [Pl. Dep. at 86-87; Seli Dep. at 10].
Plaintiff's Relationship with Seli
summer of 2012, Plaintiff and Seli began a sexual
relationship that lasted nearly two years. [Pl. Dep. at 25].
Plaintiff has described the relationship as consensual and
romantic, and frequently told Seli that she loved him. [Pl.
Dep. at 25-26, 48-49; 55-57, 128-29; Def. Exh. G. at
MSG000007, 16-17, 18-19, 21, 24-25, 28-35, 37, 40, 43, 46-47,
50-51, 53, 61, 63, 68-71, 73-74, 76, 80, 85, 89, 92-93, 97,
99, 121, 123-26, 128, 130-32, 134, 137-38, 144, 146-49, 151,
153-54, 157, 159, 161, 172, 174-76, 179-81, 183-89].
Plaintiff attempted to end the relationship a few times.
However, Plaintiff maintains that at multiple points during
her relationship, Seli told her that if she tried to end the
relationship “it wouldn't be possible for both of
us to work at Yale.” [Pl. Dep. at 19; see also, Pl.
Dep. at 55, 189]. While Seli did not tell her that he would
fire her if she did not have a relationship with her, he did
tell her that “one of us has to leave Yale if someone
learns about [the affair].” [Pl. Dep. at 55]. Plaintiff
understood that by this Seli meant that Plaintiff would be
the one to leave Yale. Id.
messages between Seli and Plaintiff suggest that Seli was
unwilling to allow the relationship to lapse. For example, in
November 2013, Seli wrote to Plaintiff, “I called you
but could not reach you . . . I was expecting you to be with
me today . . . I am writing you in ‘bottomed out'
condition.” [Pl. Exh. E at Plaintiff000229]. Plaintiff
did not respond to this message. Several hours later the
following exchange took place:
Seli: Would you like to go to Turkish Restaurant with me and
Plaintiff: Why? No. I would not.
Seli: We have to be together
Plaintiff: Does Elnur have to be with us too? I don't get
Seli: He does not have to. I thought he could make the
situation normal, lower the probability of us crying. It does
not have to be Elnur. It can be anyone else. Or it can be
only you and me. Or we can go to a movie theater. The only
condition, I don't want to talk about anything serious.
Plaintiff: I appreciate your effort. I am not willing to be
in a normal situation now.
Seli: No need to appreciate. I am doing this only for myself,
as you want. Can we do something together?
Plaintiff: I think you are really confused and cannot think
properly. Would you like to think without getting together
for a while? Would be better.
Seli: I think you don't get the situation. I am suffering
physically (not only emotionally). I feel deprived like a
drug addict. Anyhow we won't be able to get together for
a while (at least 2 weeks). But let it be as you wish. On the
other hand, I suggest we meet on Saturday.
Seli: My thoughts were all around the place. It would have
been rejected if that was a grant. I MISS YOU.
Plaintiff: That is what I am saying, let's think of it
like a grant and define specific aims ©
Plaintiff: You need to think in a structured way.
Seli: I don't have to do everything you ask me to do
Plaintiff: As long as we are together, I have to do
everything you want me to do.
[Pl. Exh. E at Plaintiff000229-31]. A few days after this
conversation, Seli wrote to Plaintiff, “I would like to
see you a lot. I will be in the office.” Id.
at Plaintiff000233. Plaintiff responded, “It might not
be good to see each other.” Id. Seli
responded, “You are right. But staying away did not
work either.” Id. In March 2014, Plaintiff
told Seli that she wanted to end the relationship. Seli
responded, “What does it mean it is over? . . . Have
you gone insane? I turned the world upside down in the past
10 days so everything could go as we planned . . . . I love
you so so much. And it is not possible for me to be without
you. Nothing is over for me and nothing will end.”
Id. at Plaintiff000318.
also got upset with Seli if she did not answer his calls. For
example, the following exchange took place on November 22,
Seli: Hi. You have been more unreachable than I expected
tonight. I am a bit ...