UW researcher Michael Katze fired after sexual-harassment investigation

A University of Washington researcher who last year was found to have sexually harassed women who worked in his lab, and asked employees to solicit a prostitute for him, has been fired.

A University of Washington researcher who, according to a UW investigation, sexually harassed women who worked in his lab, and asked employees to solicit a prostitute for him, has been fired.

Michael Katze was fired by the university for “conduct counter to the core values” of the UW, according to a university statement. The decision was made by a faculty adjudication panel and upheld by UW President Ana Mari Cauce.

Katze, a microbiology professor and associate director for research in the Regional Primate Research Center, was responsible for cutting-edge work that put the UW on the forefront of Ebola and flu research.

In January 2016, a UW investigator found that Katze had created a hostile work environment for a woman under his direct supervision because he “persistently, and for an extended period of time, made unwanted sexual comments and jokes,” and reminded her often that he could fire her. The investigator also found that Katze had a sexual relationship with another woman under his direct supervision, and that he viewed pornography on his work computer even when he was warned not to.

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The university had received complaints about Katze’s behavior on six separate occasions, as far back as 2006, the investigator found.

Katze’s lab was shut down in April 2016, and he was put on home assignment. He continued to draw his $120,000-a-year salary until Tuesday, the date when he was fired.

“The decision to terminate any employee is one the University takes extraordinarily seriously,” said Victor Balta, spokesman for the university and a senior director for media relations, in a statement.

“The investigation and adjudication process is designed to ensure thorough consideration before a conclusion is reached,” Balta said. “It was just such a process that led to the termination of Dr. Katze, and this action upholds our commitment to a safe workplace for all employees.”

Katze unsuccessfully sued the UW for removing him from his job, and also unsuccessfully sued the UW and a reporter for the online news site BuzzFeed, saying records released about the investigation would…

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