UCF College of Medicine vice president fired over misconduct allegations

Photo by Gabby Baquero.

An investigation by the UCF Office of Equal Employment and Affirmative Action Programs found sufficient evidence that Gerard Aubert, vice president of the UCF College of Medicine, took part in offensive, unwelcome acts based on sex that damaged employment opportunities and constituted sexual harassment. 

Aubert, whose salary was $216,336.54 in 2015, was placed on paid administrative leave until the final decision was made on Aug. 23.

Aubert was arrested on Aug. 30 for allegedly punching his wife Nanette Aubert in the face after “drinking all day.” The alleged incident follows the loss of his job. Nanette Aubert told Orange County Sheriff’s Officer James Birdsong that her husband may have tried to take up to 10 pain pills. The affidavit states that Aubert told the arresting officer that nothing happened and that he wanted to go to sleep, adding later that “Nanette Aubert had hit him multiple times and tried to shove pills down his throat.”

Deborah German, founding dean of the UCF College of Medicine, alleged 54-year-old Aubert’s misconduct included sexual harassment, the unlawful solicitation and acceptance of gifts from university vendors and the use of his state position for personal gain, according to documents provided by the university.

A predetermination hearing was held on Aug. 22, but Aubert did not attend. This meeting was meant to give Aubert a chance to explain why he shouldn’t be discharged and to refute the charges. Aubert was allowed to bring one representative to advise and assist him. The conference offered Aubert the opportunity to bring forth witnesses, written statements and other documents that Aubert deemed relevant to proving his case. 

University Compliance, Ethics, and Risk, also known as UCER, received a tip on Feb. 17 that Aubert was allegedly misusing university funds. On Feb. 25, the office received another complaint that Aubert had forced a supervisor to change the wording of certain employee performance appraisals “because he did not like these employees.”

Allegations made against Aubert that involved sexual harassment and retaliation included a complaint on July 31, 2014, which stated Aubert called a female subordinate into his office and then yelled at her until she cried, after which he would not allow her to leave his office until the subordinate forced her way past him. According to the investigation report, the subordinate noted that the lights were dim and the shades were closed when she went into Aubert’s office.

Aubert denies yelling at the complainant and blocking her exit. 

“[Aubert] stated he did tell Complainant 1 to stay because he was ‘genuinely concerned’ about her and he wanted her to calm down,” records state. 

According to university records, Aubert said that the subordinate overreacted because she had previously been in an abusive relationship. 

The Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action found that Aubert’s version of events lacked credibility. The report states that EOAA thought Aubert tried to “undermine” the complainant by saying he had previously received complaints about her. 

“[Aubert’s] description of the Complainant ‘overreacting’ (a stereotypical way to react to females who stand up against misconduct) and his pattern of treating other female employees aggressively convinces EOAA that this physically threatening conduct was based on Complainant 1’s sex,” the report states, finding Aubert in violation of Title VII, Title IX and UCF 3.001. 

Another allegation alleges that after the aforementioned subordinate complained about Aubert, he tried to intimidate her by staring and using facilities near her office. Aubert also questioned another female subordinate about what she knew regarding the incident with the first complainant and made “disparaging comments” about her, such as her having “mental problems.”

Another allegation claims that in June 2014, Aubert yelled and cursed at the second female subordinate. 

“After finding out that Complainant 2 had reported the above incident to Witness 1, [Aubert] asked Complainant 2 give up a raise in order to give a pay increase to a male employee,” records state. 

Another 2014 allegation alleges that Aubert angrily threw papers at another female subordinate after she repeatedly asked him for documents. A witness states that Aubert then told the woman to “watch it.” 

A Feb. 2016 allegation states that Aubert yelled at another female subordinate in front of a male subordinate. When the female subordinate tried to privately speak to him regarding the issue, Aubert told her that he did not want to “hear her drama” and then refused to discuss the incident. 

Aubert then made comments about the last female subordinate’s accent during her annual review, citing that it was affecting her ability to communicate with others. 

EOAA found Aubert guilty of all the above allegations stating that Aubert “has a pattern of hostility towards women and that [Aubert’s] behaviors have demonstrated that he lacks the ability to conduct himself with civility and professionalism in the office.”

UCER found Aubert guilty of accepting complimentary lunches from vendors, using vendor tickets to go golfing, instructing employees to golf with other vendors and telling vendors that he only golfs with the vendor that donates the most money. 

In addition, UCER also found that Aubert had created a new director-level position and then cancelled the position, disbanding the search committee, once his pre-selected candidate was not chosen. Other evidence shows that Aubert then tried to hire a friend who had golfed with him and vendors instead of following through on a promotion he had offered an employee. 

“We appreciate that employees brought their concerns to our attention,” said UCF spokesman Chad Binette. “We immediately investigated the allegations and took appropriate actions.”

Aubert will not be eligible for rehire, according to university documents.