Lindsay Shepherd files lawsuit against Wilfrid Laurier University, claiming ‘attacks’ have ‘rendered her unemployable in academia’

Lindsay Shepherd, the teaching assistant who rose to prominence after she was controversially disciplined for showing her class part of a TVOntario program on gender-neutral pronouns, is suing Wilfrid Laurier University, two professors, and a manager of the school’s Diversity and Equity Office.

She claims harassment, intentional infliction of nervous shock, negligence, and constructive dismissal. The “attacks” on her “have rendered her unemployable in academia,” she claims, and forced her to abandon her career plans for further graduate study and teaching.

The statement of claim, which seeks $3.6 million, was filed Tuesday in Waterloo, Ont., and as yet no statements of defence have been filed. The school did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did the three individual respondents.

In addition to Laurier, Shepherd’s suit names Nathan Rambukkana, the professor of the course for which Shepherd was a teaching assistant; Herbert Pimlott, Masters program coordinator; and Adria Joel, acting manager of gender violence prevention in the Diversity and Equity Office. It describes them as “predators” who were “bullying” Shepherd in a disciplinary meeting, a recording of which Shepherd and later released publicly.

The dispute began last November when, as part of a communications studies class on grammar, Shepherd showed a clip of the show The Agenda in which host Steve Paikin moderated a debate between Jordan Peterson, the psychologist and author whose fame was launched by his opposition to compelled use of gender-neutral pronouns, and Nicholas Matte of the University of Toronto’s sexual diversity studies program.

Until that day, Rambukkana had been an “indifferent mentor” to Shepherd who only met with her twice briefly, “barely acknowledged her existence,” and “provided her with very limited direction as to the content to provide to her students in his classes,” the suit claims.

The day after she aired the clip, however, Shepherd was summoned to an “inquisition” at which the three respondents “lambasted” her, attacked her personally, and falsely claimed someone had filed a complaint, Shepherd alleges. She claims Rambukkana said that by airing the clip of Peterson she had violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Bill C-16, a federal statute that amended the Canadian Human Rights Act, which does not even apply to universities. As has previously been widely reported,Rambukkana said showing such a clip is like neutrally playing a speech by Adolf Hitler.

In her suit, Shepherd claims she had not even taken a side on the pronoun issue, “disagreed with what she understood to be Peterson’s perspective,” and presented the debate neutrally. Still, she was “attacked as a protegee and supporter of Peterson.”

She claims this “attack” continued even after she started sobbing, and it ended with a series of restrictions on her future teaching, and a threat that her job might be in jeopardy.

Shepherd is represented in this action by employment lawyer Howard Levitt, who also writes a column for the Financial Post.

The statement of claim argues the school is vicariously liable for the “objectively outrageous and flagrant” conduct of the individual respondents because it created an environment that endorsed it.

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Source:: Nationalpost – News


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