NewsTeam 10 Investigates


Discrimination alleged against UC San Diego chancellor, UC Regents

Ex-official suing for age, gender discrimination
Posted at 4:26 PM, Jun 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-05 20:13:48-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- A former associate vice chancellor for UC San Diego is suing the university for age and gender discrimination, as well as wrongful termination.

Jean Ford, former Associate Vice Chancellor for UC San Diego Health Sciences Advancement, filed her lawsuit Monday against the UC Regents and Chancellor Pradeep Khosla.

Ford said she “reported discrimination, harassment, retaliation and abusive conduct by Khosla and his chief of staffs (current and former) and assistant chancellor numerous times.”

“No formal investigation was initiated and no meaningful action was taken to… prevent further harassment,” according to the court documents.

According to her biography still on the UC San Diego website, she spearheaded the health sciences portion of the university’s campus wide campaign. Ford came to San Diego in 2015 after a decade at Columbia University Medical Center, where she most recently served as vice president for development. According to the lawsuit, Ford was recruited to work for UC San Diego. She had more than 20 years of experience in health sciences development.

She said in December 2015 that working conditions began to deteriorate. The lawsuit states Khosla changed Ford’s reporting structure and wanted her to report to a male supervisor who had “significantly less experience in fundraising, management or identifying and recruiting team members.”

Ford alleges that she was overlooked for promotion in favor of a younger man “who had no similar experience to [her].”

The lawsuit stated Khosla was “increasingly hostile” to Ford, despite having obtained $70 million in gifts within her first eight months of working at UC San Diego. She said that he openly questioned her salary and expressed irritation she was making so much money; however, Khosla did not make any comments to highly-compensated males.

His behavior toward women was regularly displayed, according to court documents. Khosla “spoke openly and negatively about President Napolitano and made it clear that he did not answer to her.”

Ford alleged he made comments about her shoes and clothing. She added that Khosla targeted multiple women over the age of 40 for discrimination and harassment. Ford ultimately expressed her concern directly to the chancellor, who later retaliated against her by “undermining [her] work, openly questioning her decisions, blocking her recruitments, refusing to approve her budget expenditures, continuously changing the Chancellor’s expectations for her, and making negative comments to her co-workers, subordinates—and even donors.”

In August 2018, she was accused of ordering her assistant to take an online compliance module for her—something Ford said was not true. She was fired that month for “sharing of her password and her assistant taking the course for her, as well as less than satisfactory performance in key areas.”

Team 10 reached out to officials at UC San Diego. A university spokesperson said:

“UC San Diego has only recently become aware of the complaint, which has not yet been served on the University. UC San Diego and Chancellor Khosla strongly condemn all forms of intimidation, harassment and discrimination and are committed to fostering a climate that is supportive of our students, staff and faculty. The University will review the complaint and respond appropriately.”

Ford’s attorney, Kristina Larsen, said the University of California has been aware of the chancellor’s treatment of women since at least 2014. Her statement said in part:

“The President and the Regents seem to have made a deliberate choice to say or do nothing, and the culture of silence empowered the Chancellor and his immediate staff to act with impunity. My client made the brave decision to challenge this culture of silence by speaking out about the hostile environment she experienced at UCSD, of course because of the significant harm to her personally, but also in the hopes that she could serve as a voice for others who may continue to suffer in silence but are not in a position to speak out.”