Sexual Harassment in the UN: Disturbing Allegations against Rajendra Pauchari

Our New York sexual harassment attorneys have been thinking a lot about the United Nations lately, in light of potent allegations made against a high ranking UN science official. Rajendra Pauchari recently resigned as the Chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) after serving in the position since 2002. The surprising move — his full term would have expired in October of this year — comes on the coattails of allegations that Pauchari had sexually harassed colleagues.

The first allegation came from a 29-year-old employee at Pauchari’s Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). The woman alleges that he sent inappropriate messages to her through a number of mediums. Pauchari stepped down from his post at TERI following the allegations. A second, more recent allegation led to his resignation from the IPCC at the end of February. The second woman’s lawyer describes Pauchari’s harassment against many women.

Pauchari has faced calls for his resignation in the past, due to inaccuracies in climate reports; and in 2010, reporters from The Telegraph questioned Pauchari’s financial relationship with the UN.

The former IPCC chair is 74, and he has three children. The IPCC won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for climate change work while Pauchari chaired the panel.

The beleaguered official claims that a hacker attempting to ruin his reputation committed the alleged harassment. An investigation into the alleged communication channels should shed light on what really happened. Currently, Pauchari is officially on a leave of absence.

As the story develops, investigators may find that other women come forward now that two alleged victims have spoken up. Sexual harassment victims often find it difficult to accuse their aggressors publicly, particularly if the aggressors hold positions of authority. This case could have profound ramifications for the workplace culture at the UN and other large governmental organizations and non-profits throughout the world.

The allegations may also spur additional investigations into other aspects of Pauchari’s work. His legacy with the UN and work in the climate change space could face scrutiny as a result of the sexual harassment accusations.

Are you confused about your rights in the workplace? Call Joseph & Kirschenbaum, LLP right now at (212) 688-5640, or email the team at info@jhllp.com, to explore what you can do about an employer who has harassed you or violated other laws, like the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or New York Labor Laws (NYLL).