University Told Pregnant Intern Not To Rub Her Own Belly Because It May 'Excite Men'

Mom wins lawsuit against university for harassment she endured while pregnant

In today’s installment of OMFG, I cannot believe this happened, a woman has won an $850,000 lawsuit she brought against Wayne State University for some seriously offensive crap she endured during her last semester while participating in a university-supported internship with the Salvation Army. She was pregnant at the time. Her internship leaders were idiots.

According to The Detroit Free Press, Tina Varlesi brought the lawsuit against the University in 2007, when she was studying social work there. She was pregnant at the time, and some of the questions her internship leaders asked her will seriously leave you dumbfounded. According Varlesi’s attorney Deborah Gordon, example questions included “I don’t see a ring,” and “What is going on?” and statements such as, “The men can look but they can’t touch,” and “Do not show your pregnancy.”

“Tina was told many times, verbally and also in writing: Do not touch or rub your belly, you’re going to sexually stimulate men that are here being treated for addiction problems,” Gordon said. When Varlesi filed a complaint about all of the things that were being said to her, the school conducted a meeting about the complaint. The Wayne State administrators in the meeting told her to wear looser clothing.


We’ve all heard “never rub a pregnant woman’s belly” — but never rub your own pregnant belly? Then to actually file a complaint and have administrators give you wardrobe advice? No.

Varlesi was awarded $850,000 for this nonsense. Good. This is why it is so important to support and believe women when they recount stories of harassment and discrimination, so they have the courage to step up when they endure these ridiculous scenarios. Pretty sure the university now has some anti-harassment/discrimination training in place. Can’t believe you actually have to instruct people not to be so creepy, but apparently you do. This type of behavior simply cannot be condoned in any kind of professional capacity. Hell, it can’t be condoned on planet earth.

Varlesi was given a failing grade in the internship in April 2008. “Tina lost a whole career,” her lawyer said. “They didn’t care about the discrimination. They let it happen. They backed up (those who were discriminating) and assured Tina couldn’t graduate.”