Ling Gao

Yale Law School professor Jed Rubenfeld has been suspended for at least two years due to allegations of sexual harassment, according to a New York Magazine article published Wednesday morning. 

According to the report, the suspension is effective immediately. In fall 2018, several news outlets reported that Rubenfeld was facing an internal investigation into alleged inappropriate conduct toward female students. Slate published a piece in October 2018 detailing the experiences of women who alleged that Rubenfeld — who published an op-ed in the New York Times in 2014 that condemned universities’ handling of sexual misconduct cases — had harassed them, with a focus on Rubenfeld’s role as a potential gatekeeper for high-profile clerkships. According to the article, Rubenfeld drank and made lewd comments toward students at parties hosted by him and his wife, fellow YLS professor Amy Chua. Rubenfeld and Chua previously gained national attention in 2018 for telling YLS students that they needed to look and dress a certain way to attain clerkships for Brett Kavanaugh ’87 LAW ’90.

Rubenfeld could not be reached for comment, and Chua did not respond to a request for comment. On Wednesday, Rubenfeld told the New York Times that he’d never harassed anyone or kissed or touched people without consent, but acknowledged that he’d made comments to students over the years that he’d regretted.

“I have made jokes and comments that I would not make today and I wish I had not made,” Rubenfeld was quoted saying in the New York Times. “This may have made students uncomfortable. I respect students for coming forward if it did … But I never sexually harassed anybody. That’s a completely different thing.”

In an email to the News, Evan Walker-Wells ’14 LAW ’22 —  who serves as co-chair for the YLS Title IX working group — said that “serious stories” of misconduct have been around Yale Law for years. Walker-Wells said he is glad to see that Yale “investigated and affirmed sexual misconduct from such a long period” of time. “That even a tenured professor at Yale Law is held accountable is a sign” that the Title IX investigation process can work, Walker-Wells added. 

After the story broke, YLS Dean Heather Gerken addressed the Law School community in an email, saying that while she could not comment on the existence of investigations or complaints, YLS and University administrations investigate violations of University rules thoroughly. YLS spokesperson Janet Conroy referred comment to University spokesperson Karen Peart, who declined to comment on Rubenfeld’s suspension.

Still, students expressed concerns about the school’s lack of transparency surrounding investigations of Rubenfeld that began as early as spring 2018.

Gerken — who previously voiced support for Olivia Warren when she came forward with allegations of misconduct against late Judge Stephen Reinhardt LAW ’54, whom both Warren and Gerken herself clerked for — said in her email that she takes the responsibility to provide a safe environment “extraordinarily seriously.”

Gerken encouraged students who have experienced misconduct to reach out to Associate Dean Ellen Cosgrove, who oversees the offices of student affairs.

John Besche | john.besche@yale.edu