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Former Yale Professor Files Wrongful Termination Suit

Photo by Franciso Anzola via Wikimedia Creative Commons

A former Yale professor and psychiatrist has filed a wrongful termination suit against Yale University, New Haven Register reports. She says the school did not reappoint her to her position because she called former President Donald Trump dangerous.

Bandy Lee MED ’94 DIV ’95, a former Yale Department of Psychiatry in School of Medicine faculty member, filed the suit on Monday, according to the Yale Daily News.

In her complaint, Lee alleges that Yale fired her for a January 2020 tweet in which she described Trump and his supporters as suffering from a “shared psychosis.” Lee also said that Alan Dershowitz, a lawyer on Trump’s legal team, had “wholly taken on Trump’s symptoms by contagion,” according to the Yale Daily News.

Dershowitz wrote a letter of complaint to Yale officials stating that Lee had “‘ publicly “diagnosed” me as “psychotic,” based on my legal and political views, and without ever examining or even meeting me,’” New Haven Register reports.

Lee said the department then threatened to fire her.

After the University received Lee’s letter, chair of the Psychiatry Department John Krystal warned Lee via an email that the department “would be compelled to ‘terminate [her] teaching role.’” The Department issued a termination letter to Lee on May 17, 2020. It stated that the reason for her termination was “because she did not have a formal teaching role.”

Krystal later told Lee in a September 4 letter that the termination had nothing to do with the political nature of her comments. Rather, the department was concerned about her “clinical judgement” and “professionalism.”

“Although the committee does not doubt that you are acting on the basis of your personal moral code,” the letter read, “your repeated violations of the APA’s Goldwater Rule and your inappropriate transfer of the duty to warn from the treatment setting to national politics raised significant doubts about your understanding of crucial ethical and legal principles in psychiatry.”

Dershowitz told Yale Daily News that he did not believe he had the power to get Lee fired, but said he was pleased with how Yale handled the situation.

“[Lee] credits me with getting her fired,” Dershowitz said. “I’m not that powerful. I am pleased with the fact that I brought to Yale’s attention the facts that demonstrate her deviation from professional norms. The facts are the facts, and Yale acted on the documented facts, not on my opinion.”

Lee is seeking reinstatement and compensation for damages, including “economic losses” and “emotional distress. She has declined to comment on the lawsuit but did speak to the New Haven Register about her remarks regarding former President Trump.

“As a violence scholar, I projected that Donald Trump was dangerous, not as much for specific acts of violence but for the groundwork he would lay for a culture of violence that would then give rise to epidemics of suicides, homicides, and mass violence,” Lee said in an email. “Although his election in the first place served as a barometer for a poor state of collective mental health, once in office and being kept there, he vastly exacerbated and legitimized violence.”

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1 COMMENT

  1. Good for Yale. By time higher education institutions take a stand against their professors taking any overt political positions while they are teaching, even if it is political science or government, even less so for non-polisci and government courses

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