A prominent doctor is suing NYU Langone Health after he was fired as director of its cancer center over his social media postings about the Israel-Hamas war.
The lawsuit could propel NYU Langone — a major New York hospital — into the center of a national debate over how much power private institutions have to fire employees over their online postings.
Laws protecting employees from being fired for what they say or do outside of the office vary widely by state. In New York, the law is somewhat unclear, lawyers say. But as tensions and protests escalate over the violence in the Middle East, the issue of what sort of speech is protected or acceptable has roiled American businesses and campuses.
The wrongful termination lawsuit was brought by Dr. Benjamin Neel, a cancer biologist whose laboratory at NYU Langone conducts research on breast cancer, ovarian cancer and treatments for leukemia. Before he was fired, Dr. Neel had reposted a variety of anti-Hamas political cartoons, including two with offensive caricatures of Arab people, and messages on the social media platform X, like one that appeared to question the extent of the death toll in Gaza from Israel’s relentless bombing campaign.
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