Saturday, September 26, 2009

Bittersweet Courage

I represented Tandra Chaudhuri, a brave woman from India, who was sexually harassed by her supervisor. Tandra was married to Kurt and they both worked as scientists at a research reactor. I can tell you that in my years as a lawyer, and as an adult, I don't think I have seen two people more in love than the two of them. They were both scientists and had voraciously pursued research, the kind of biological research geared to help the human condition. Their energy was boundless. Kurt had his own issues with his employer, but I am concentrating on Tandra here.

Tandra was a beautiful dark-haired, soft-spoken scientist who was taken with my daughter Lisa. Tandra was sexually harassed by her boss, which made it difficult for her to conduct her research. Tandra was devoted to science, devoted to Kurt and devoted to justice. While I represented her, she invited me and my daughter, Lisa who was around 9 years old, to their house. She was a gracious host. She had beautiful red flowers all over her deck and really cared about Lisa. Tandra and Kurt had not children of their own.

We took deposition after deposition of scientist, some in the pocket of management, and others in favor of allowing Tandra, hoping this brilliant and creative woman could do her research free of discrimination and harassment. It was important to Tandra and her husband that they work at the same facility. They were collaborators, and more importantly, they were in love. The defense sent Tandra to a St. Louis psychologist to say that Tandra was lying. In fact this psychologist was shut down in another case trying to testify to this inadmissible fabrication that the Plaintiff lied. Tandra was tough, though, taping the session she had with this paid expert.

Tandra, with her Ph.D. in biology decided to work on a cure for breast cancer. She just wanted to do her research, and she was brilliant at it. During the pendency of the lawsuit, she and Kurt were offered a job at an out of state university and they scooped it up. They finally had the freedom they needed to do good work and help society. We settled Tandra's case. Kurt had a different case that I will write about later.

This was one of my first cases around the time we started my current firm in 1995. Tandra and Kurt seemed blessed. Every few years, I would hear from them and their research. A few years ago, Tandra shared with me that, ironically, she has contracted breast cancer, the very disease she was attempting to eradicate. She sounded hopeful and I naively thought all was under control.

In 2006, I received a sad call from Kurt. Tandra was no longer with us. She succumbed to the very disease she sought to eradicate. Kurt was alone in his research, alone in his life, and seemed to be alone in his sorrow. He sounded lost and despondent. What do you say? I don't know. The loss of Tandra, one of my first sexual harassment clients and my friend haunts me to this day. There are few people like Tandra Chaudhuri and I miss her.

1 comment:

  1. Uncommon deception, ask anyone who knows fact from fiction at the Missouri Reactor or UAB. Your a perfect fool.