A federal judge has decided that calling a woman "Monica Lewinsky" can be considered sexual harassment.
Inbal Hayut brought a suit against the State University of New York at New Paltz and professor Alex Young, who she claims created a "sexually hostile environment" by repeatedly calling her by the name of the former White House intern.
"Young observed that [Hayut] wore the same color lipstick as Monica Lewinsky, and made comments such as, 'How was your weekend with Bill,' and 'Shut up, Monica. I'll give you a cigar later.' All these comments were made in front of the entire class," Northern District Judge David Hurd wrote in his decision that allowed the suit to proceed.
Hayut said the professor — who taught two of her classes in 1998 — ignored her pleas to stop the name-calling and that the school refused to take any action.
As a result, she said, she was "overcome with shame and humiliation," and "unable to concentrate." Her grades deteriorated, and she left the school in the spring.
"She's a sweet, shy girl and this was very difficult for her," said her lawyer, William Martin. "Some of the students didn't know her by any other name but Monica."
Lewinsky's spokeswoman, Juli Nadler, said, "Monica is dismayed this incident ever occurred, but that was in 1998, when her name was linked to presidential scandal. It's February 2001, and when people hear her name now, they think Monica Lewinsky handbag designer, e-commerce entrepreneur, Yahoo Internet Life cover girl... . Clearly, she has moved on and taken her good name with her."
Young, who is in his 70s and has retired from the school, couldn't be reached, but his lawyer, Kenneth Kelly, called the harassment charge "ridiculous."