2019 Lawsuit Against Luis Giraldo Alleged Alleged Misconduct At Previous Position, Was Dismissed In 2020
This September, Dr. Luis Giraldo was hired by Reed College as our new Director of Student Support. Some Reedies have been alarmed to discover a news article published by The Channels which states that Giraldo was sued in 2019 for multiple types of workplace misconduct and discrimination. Prior to being hired as Reed’s Director of Student Support, Giraldo worked as the Director of Equity, Diversity, and Cultural Competency at Santa Barbara City College (SBCC), a public community college located in Santa Barbara, California. In March of 2019, Giraldo and SBCC were sued by Krystle Farmer, who was a student employee at SBCC’s Equity Department from November 2016 to November 2017.
Farmer’s initial 2019 filing alleged that the Equity Department under Giraldo’s leadership discriminated against Black and female students — including Farmer herself — and that SBCC was made aware of these issues and did nothing to resolve them. According to the suit, when Farmer spoke out about this discrimination, Giraldo retaliated against her, ultimately forcing her to resign from the Equity Department. Farmer also alleged that Giraldo sexually harassed and slandered her.
The claims against Giraldo were dismissed on May 20th, 2020, a little over a year after it was initially filed. It was dismissed “with prejudice,” meaning that it cannot be refiled. Giraldo was dismissed as a defendant following the filing of a CIV-110 “Request for Dismissal” form signed by Farmer’s counsel; CIV-110 forms are typically filed by plaintiffs seeking to dismiss part or all of their own civil lawsuits. Farmer’s claims against SBCC remained in pre-trial for another few months, until it was also dismissed with prejudice as a condition of an out-of-court settlement between Farmer and SBCC. None of the allegations in the suit were litigated or proven in court, nor will they ever be.
In an email to the Quest, Giraldo wrote that “as the facts unraveled, I was dismissed of any part of the case before the case reached any type of settlement.”
Giraldo also wrote that he is “bound legally to not discuss a case that [he] was dismissed from and not a part of in the end.” Additionally, Farmer contacted the Quest to inform us via text, “Per my settlement agreement I am not allowed to discuss the lawsuit against SBCC and Giraldo.”
In an email to the Quest Editorial Board, Vice President for Student Life Karnell McConnell-Black said that Giraldo had provided legal documents related to the lawsuit to Reed, and further alleged that Giraldo had “articulated that the foundations of the case were fabricated and unfounded.” A lawyer who represented Giraldo and SBCC in the case informed the Quest that she provided the terms of the out-of-court settlement to Reed Administration last week.
According to the lawsuit’s initial filing, the SBCC Equity Department under Giraldo excluded and discriminated against Black and female SBCC students, and further failed to address concerns raised by Farmer — the only Black woman employed by the Equity Department during her tenure — about this discrimination. The Equity Office’s calendar of events in Spring of 2018 allegedly included zero events specifically for Black students, even during Black History Month.
According to The Channels, in a February 2018 meeting of SBCC’s Student Equity Committee, Farmer stated that following the publication of the Equity Office’s events calendar, she “had to come up with a ‘black love day’ event last minute because there was nothing set up for [SBCC’s] black students.” In that same meeting, Farmer criticized the Equity Office for its failure to reach out to Black students or to collaborate with SBCC’s Black Student Union.
The suit alleged that Giraldo, who is Latino, favored Latine students, and that his Equity Department directed “80%” of its programming time towards Latine students. Giraldo also allegedly “paid for non-related work expenses and took Latino employees to lunch regularly with the company card during work hours.”
According to SBCC’s Office of Institutional Research, in fall of 2017 — when Farmer resigned from her post in the Equity Department — 41.5% of SBCC’s students were white, 39.8% were Hispanic, and 3.3% were African American. Therefore, Hispanic students made up 68% of SBCC’s non-white student population in fall 2017. In a 2016 interview with The Channels, SBCC’s student newspaper, Giraldo noted that he wanted to ensure that SBCC’s hiring practices accurately reflected the school’s student demographics. According to the article, “[Giraldo] believes that [SBCC] should have an equal amount of Hispanic staff members relative to the student population.”
The suit went on to allege that women in the Equity Department received heavier workloads and less pay than their male counterparts. One former student employee of the Equity Department was cited within the suit as claiming that in the Department, “a female student employee was paid $14 an hour, but a male student employee was paid $16 per hour for the same work.” That same student employee was quoted in the suit as saying, “[Giraldo] flirts with women, but then if he doesn’t get his way, he starts treating you differently.”
Additionally, the suit claimed that Giraldo sexually harassed Farmer by sending her unwelcome late-night text messages “that were effusive and filled with heart emojis.” Giraldo also would allegedly begin inappropriate work-place conversations with Farmer about “his ex-wife and current sexual relationship.” According to the suit, in a conversation with an SBCC employee, Giraldo “falsely stated that [Farmer] had made sexual advances towards him that were rejected,” and further allegedly claimed that this was the reason Farmer left the Equity Department.
When Farmer raised concerns about the discrimination against Black and female students which she observed in the Equity department, Giraldo allegedly retaliated by reducing her hours, deliberately excluding her from department meetings, and “discouraging other employees within the Equity Department from interacting with her.” On October 31, 2017, Giraldo allegedly withheld half of Farmer’s paycheck. She resigned the following day.
After her resignation, Farmer found employment in January 2018 as the Program Coordinator of an SBCC organization called Umoja, which according to the filing is “a community and critical resource dedicated to enhancing the cultural and educational experiences of black and other minority students.” However, the following August, SBCC merged Umoja into Giraldo’s Equity Department and Farmer was informed that she was no longer employed by SBCC.
While the suit alleged discriminatory and retaliatory behavior by Giraldo, it also claimed that SBCC deliberately refused to address Farmer’s concerns. In particular, it pointed to a Title IX report which allegedly found evidence of “racial and gender disparity issues within the department, specifically with [Giraldo]”; according to the lawsuit, SBCC did nothing to remedy the issues raised in the Title IX report.
At press time, Giraldo is currently beginning his role as Director of Student Support. The Office of Student Support serves to “assist students in overcoming hardships and obstacles to personal well-being and success” by helping students connect to various on-campus resources and support structures. According to the position’s description, the Director of Student Support provides “referrals, problem-solving, case management, consultation, and campus resource navigation for students who are experiencing difficulty or distress.” During the hiring process, prospective candidates for Director were asked to present on how they would tackle specific goals identified by the college, most of which were related to implementing anti-racist policies and increasing equity for marginalized students. The position’s description also notes that the Director of Student Support is provided with on-campus housing as a benefit of the job.
According to his resume, Giraldo served as SBCC’s Director of Equity, Diversity, and Cultural Competency from June 2016 to September 2019, leaving the position while the lawsuit was open. According to his resume, Giraldo was also hired as SBCC’s Facilities and Operations Manager in June 2016, at the same time as his hiring as Equity Director; following his departure from the Office of Equity, Giraldo remained at SBCC as Facilities and Operations Manager until December 2021.
Prior to taking his position as SBCC’s Equity Director, Giraldo received a Ph.D in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Claremont Graduate University, where he wrote his dissertation on “Racial Microaggressions and Reintegration in the Prison-to-School pipeline.” He has served as Adjunct Faculty at Pacific Oaks College and UCLA. Additionally, he’s spent multiple periods working with Homeboy Industries, an organization based out of his hometown of Los Angeles which provides support to former gang members and the formerly incarcerated. On his resume, Giraldo notes that his academic research focuses on how those demographics interact with higher education, and states that he is “a Critical Race scholar.”
Although the lawsuit against Giraldo was dismissed over two years ago, rumors about it began spreading through the student body almost as soon as Giraldo was hired as Director of Student Support. Multiple concerned individuals reached out to the Quest asking us to cover the matter; “Check the newsletter. He was offered the job,” read one terse, anonymous email. A Missed Connection on Tuesday encouraged students to look into the concerning allegations themselves: “I: do not say this to fearmonger,” the Missed Connection began, before stating that “A man: found responsible for sexual and racial harassment in a title nine case / Should not: be at reed,” although the Title IX case alluded to did not find Giraldo responsible for harassment.
The current publicly-available information is likely all that we will ever know about the lawsuit. Publicly-available records related to the lawsuit contain little to no evidence for or against the allegations beyond what is discussed in the initial March 2019 filing. The lawsuit’s dismissal with prejudice over two years ago means that the allegations will never be ruled upon in a court of law, regardless of how credible they may or may not have been. Furthermore, all parties involved are legally bound not to comment on the case as a result of their out-of-court settlement. Reedies who wish to read the initial filing themselves can find it at http://tinyurl.com/farmervgiraldo, and can access other court records via the Santa Barbara Superior Court’s Civil Records Case Search, located at https://portal.sbcourts.org/CASBCIVILPORTAL/.
SHARE confidential advocates are available for live chat Fridays & Saturdays, 8pm-midnight, and Sundays from 7-9pm (from the reed.edu/share page, use the “Send a message” button). You can also email peer advocates: email@example.com. Rowan Frost, SHARE program manager, is also a confidential advocate and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.