Woman says she was wrongfully terminated from MSU after rejecting sexual advances from boss

EAST LANSING, MI (WLNS) – A former employee of Michigan State University said she was fired from her job in the Office of the Registrar after she denied sexual advances from her boss.

On Tuesday, the registrar at MSU resigned amidst a sexual misconduct investigation.

That’s one day before a Title IX university investigation found that she violated the school’s sexual misconduct policy.

The registrar’s name is Nicole Rovig. She’s been the person in charge of everything from registrations, to transcripts, to diplomas since 2009.

She came under investigation after one of her employees said Rovig kissed her in the bathroom of a bar.  That’s just one of several graphic details.

The woman who accuses registrar Nicole Rovig of kissing her got fired a few months later. The woman, who we’re not identifying because of the sexual nature of her complaint, has reviews that say she was a good employee.

She thinks she got fired because of what happened during what she describes as a very unusual night.

The woman says Rovig was “ridiculously drunk” during a night out with other school officials during a Big Ten Academic Alliance Conference in Ann Arbor in October 2016.

She says she helped Rovig to the bathroom and that’s when everything went downhill.

“She came out of the bathroom with her shirt unbuttoned, her tank top was on, her belt was unbuckled, her pants were unbuttoned, she asked me to help her with those things.. I told her no..I made her buckle her own belt buckle and button pants,” the woman said. “She couldn’t get the top button of her and she asked me to help her button it.. I leaned in..she grabbed the back of my head, pulled it in.. Gave me a big kiss.. I pushed her away..said “stop.”

But that’s not the only sexual advance the woman says Rovig made that night.

She laid out the details to a Title IX investigator back in April. The victim says Rovig “continued to drink.” “She had her hands down people’s pants, others from other universities,” and that she “played with several people’s hair, kissed people on the lips, tried to stick her tongue in people’s mouths, and rubbed people’s legs.”

One woman who worked in the office said she witnessed Rovig “kissing and touching” other people. When asked who, she said “anybody who would stand still. She kissed me on my lips. She asked if she could kiss me. I guess I said yes. It was weird. It was everybody. My boss said, ‘kiss me.'”

The woman said she agreed to allow her boss to kiss her because she “felt she has no choice but to allow the kiss because Rovig is her boss.”

The report cited other co-workers and officials at other universities who said they didn’t see Rovig act in a way that was unusual or improper.

But one witness told the Title IX investigator that other registrars from other universities were also engaging in this sexual behavior with Rovig.

Rovig admitted kissing one witness, since she had given consent, but denied all of the other accusations against her.

Rovig even gave investigators a doctor’s note which says Rovig has “an unusually short lingual frenulum,” or “tongue tied,” which would make it extremely difficult to extend her tongue to the point she does not use or would not use her tongue while kissing.

The victim told co-workers what happened, but didn’t report it to university authorities.

She says she hoped Rovig was too drunk to remember but said that in the months that followed, had a dramatic and devastating effect and her situation at work went downhill, fast.

The Title IX report released in May sided with the victim. Investigators found that Rovig’s unwelcome behavior in October of 2016 “unreasonably interfered with the woman’s employment.”

It goes on to say that Rovig violated both the sexual harassment and intentional contact sanctions of MSU’S Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Policy.

Rovig appealed MSU’s finding, but the appeal was turned down just one day after Rovig handed in her resignation.

6 News reached out to Rovig through her attorney, Joseph Poprawa for comment, but he declined and we did not hear back from Rovig.

MSU Spokesman Jason Cody released a statement saying the school takes sexual harassment seriously, has policies for it, training to prevent it, and investigates when they get reports.

“Here at MSU, we take the issue of sexual harassment very seriously and work diligently through our policies and mandatory training for all employees to prevent it. If a complaint is made, we immediately begin an investigation into the conduct, and if a policy was violated, we follow our guidelines in determining an appropriate sanction. Sexual harassment in any form is unacceptable behavior at MSU, and we take decisive action when it is uncovered,” Cody said.

In fact, the victim never did report what happened with Rovig to MSU, she told someone who was required by law to let the university know.

“If this is happening to me, I know it’s happening to other people too,” the woman said.

She was denied unemployment because she said records show MSU told state officials she “tried to get fired.”

She has since gotten another job in another state. At this point, she has not filed any lawsuit and she says the only thing she’d like MSU to do, is apologize.

“This isn’t about money, this is about integrity and doing the right thing,” she said. “MSU needs to admit their faults and stop trying to bury it.”

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