An Oct. 18 campus email stated Thomas Novak, the former interim health center director, is no longer employed by the university. No evidence of of inappropriate sexual conduct was found in the university's investigation into allegations against Novak. (Anna Simoneau/B&W Staff)

Thomas Novak no longer employed by university


Thomas Novak, the former interim health center director, is no longer employed by the university, according to an email sent to the campus community earlier today. 

The investigation commissioned by Lehigh noted “the existence of an office workplace environment that was inconsistent with university values and with professional expectations.”

The email, however, signed by Ric Hall, the vice president for Student Affairs, and Karen Salvemini, the Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator, said the university’s investigation into allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct against Novak found “no evidence” of such charges. 

The email follows a Sept. 13 communication to the campus community which prefaced the conclusion of the investigation. This email alerted the university that no evidence was found to substantiate the allegations made against Novak, and ensured the campus that the health center was safe for students. 

Lori Friedman, the university’s director of media relations, previously told The Brown and White that the full report will not be made public. She would not say whether Novak was paid while he was on leave, which began May 31. 

David Rubenstein became the university’s inaugural executive director of the health center when he was hired in July.

Allegations against Novak were made public on May 30, when Christine Feit, a former certified medical assistant at Lehigh’s health center, filed a lawsuit against the university claiming that Novak had sexually harassed her over the course of her eight-year tenure. When Feit alerted the university’s Human Resources, she alleges nothing was done to correct the situation and was terminated in retaliation for her complaints. 

Deirdre Kamber Todd, Feit’s lawyer, previously told The Brown and White that she believes that the external investigator Lehigh hired was “not in fact neutral” and said she has filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board. 

Lehigh has since filed a motion to dismiss the case on Aug. 29, based largely on the argument that Feit waited too long to file her lawsuit in relation to her termination and the inappropriate incidents she alleges occurred. The judge of the case has not ruled yet on that motion, and a conference between the university’s attorneys and Feit’s attorney is scheduled for Nov. 13.

The lawsuit in court operates separately and independently from the university’s own investigation.

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