OHSU to pay more than $2,000 per hour to investigators of sexual harassment, discrimination claims

By Meerah Powell (OPB)
April 17, 2021 1 p.m. Updated: April 17, 2021 3:10 p.m.

Investigators, including former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, will be paid as much as $2,000 per hour or more to look into claims of sexual harassment, racism, discrimination and retaliation at Oregon Health & Science University.

OHSU announced it had hired Holder and his law firm, Covington & Burling, late last month.


The announcement came about a month after an employee filed a federal lawsuit against a doctor at OHSU for sexual assault — and against the institution itself, claiming that employees had not followed Title IX reporting protocol.

Another lawsuit followed, by a woman against an OHSU anesthesiology resident alleging sexual battery, false imprisonment and infliction of emotional distress.

In a statement earlier this month, OHSU leaders said litigation against the institution and its employees was only one reason for the investigation — the broader purpose is to examine the teaching hospital’s culture as a whole.


“This investigation will take a deep dive on these matters and I firmly believe it’s what we need to uncover the root causes and make the appropriate cultural changes,” OHSU Board Chair Wayne Monfries said during a board of directors meeting Friday.

According to the contract between Covington & Burling and OHSU obtained by OPB, Holder’s hourly rate is $2,295.

Former federal prosecutor Nancy Kestenbaum, who is also working on the investigation, has an hourly rate of $1,445.

Hourly rates for other lawyers in the firm range from $595 to $2,295, and for legal assistants range from $290 to $545. The contract states that the firm agreed to discount its hourly rates by 10% for OHSU.

“[W]e will design a survivor-centered, trauma-informed investigative workplan based on our professional judgment and provide to the University our independent findings and recommendations once we have reached them,” the contract, signed by Holder, states.

OHSU leaders say campus community members will be able to share their experiences and observations with investigators.

OHSU said it expects the investigation to take at least six months.

Related: Covington Proposed Engagement Letter