Former Yale University professor Bandy Lee plans to appeal the dismissal of her lawsuit against the university, in which she claimed that she was unlawfully fired over her tweets criticizing former President Donald Trump.
Lee — a psychiatrist and former Yale School of Medicine and Yale Law School professor — argued that Yale fired her in response to her 2020 tweets, which said that “just about all” of Trump’s supporters were suffering from “shared psychosis," reported the Yale Daily News. Lee also wrote that Alan Dershowitz — Trump’s former attorney — had “wholly taken on Trump’s symptoms by contagion.”
Lee first filed her complaint against Yale in 2021, stating that the university violated her freedom of speech when it terminated her contract. Some of Lee’s claims drew information from Yale’s Faculty Handbook, which describes Yale’s codes on academic freedom. United States District Judge Sarah Merriam dismissed Lee’s claims last Tuesday, according to the News.
“'[Lee’s] vague assertion that some unspecified provision in the Faculty Handbook creates a right to ‘academic freedom’ is plainly insufficient to show that [the] defendant undertook a contractual commitment to guarantee plaintiff continued reappointment,” Merriam said.
Merriam added that Lee’s position was a voluntary, unpaid contract with the university that was renewed yearly as per the university’s judgment. Yale spokesperson Karen Peart wrote that the University was “gratified” that the court agreed with Yale’s belief that the lawsuit had “no legal basis,” reported the News.
“[Yale] does not consider the political opinions of faculty members when making appointment decisions,” Peart said in a statement.
Lee said that while she plans to appeal the ruling of her lawsuit, she was not surprised by the outcome, according to the News. Lee said that the outcome of the ruling was a “vigorous refusal to investigate the facts.”
Penn Law School professor Amy Wax has also sparked controversy surrounding academic freedom at Penn, repeatedly making racist remarks disparaging Asian and Black Americans, and consequently coming under fire from the Penn community.
These events have led to a campus conversation surrounding tenure and potential sanctions, with Penn Law Dean Ted Ruger recommending "major sanctions" and convening a hearing board to investigate her actions and comments.