New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Doctor sues NYU Langone for unlawful termination after Israel-Hamas war-related posts

The lawsuit, filed by the former director of NYU Langone Health’s Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center, also accused the medical center of religious discrimination.
Kevin Wu
(Kevin Wu for WSN)

The former director of NYU Langone Health’s Perlmutter Cancer Center filed a lawsuit against both the hospital and the university on Thursday, alleging that he was terminated due to patient and online responses to social media posts he made related to the Israel-Hamas war. The medical center said it “stands by” its decision to terminate him.

The director, Jewish cancer biologist Benjamin Neel, claimed he was terminated without due process and that he was discriminated against on the basis of religion in the lawsuit. Neel said he was fired from NYU Langone for reposting content on the social media platform X that criticized those “who supported the violence toward and the death of Israelis.” Neel has received backlash online over the reposts, with some calling them “racist” and “anti-Arab.” 

The medical center terminated Neel from his position on Nov. 10 after initially suspending him, according to the complaint. Neel alleged that besides a 10-minute human resources interview, the medical center “did not engage in any process” before his termination. An attorney for Neel did not respond to a request for comment. 

NYU Langone spokesperson Steve Ritea said Neel disregarded the medical center’s Code of Conduct and Social Media Policy — which prohibit discrimination or harassment on the basis of race or ethnicity — in his social media activity. At the time of the reposts, Neel’s account was public, but has since been made private. 

“As an institution dedicated to healing, NYU Langone remains committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment, free of discrimination, for all of our employees and patients,” Ritea wrote to WSN. “NYU Langone stands by our decision and looks forward to defending it in court.”

Neel’s 20-page complaint also includes email conversations between himself and other NYU Langone administrators, including CEO Robert Grossman, claiming they have shared similar sentiments on the conflict. Grossman, according to the complaint, argued NYU should revoke scholarships from students who protest against Israel and that universities “interpret free speech to benefit their own political interests.” Grossman did not respond to a request for comment. 

“The emails referenced in the suit were among colleagues and Dr. Neel is now making them public in an effort to pressure NYU Langone,” Ritea wrote to WSN. “Some of those emails were critical of specific decisions by university leaders for not taking a stronger stance on the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks and for not holding accountable those who engaged in discriminatory speech. Hypocritically, Dr. Neel is now lashing out for being held accountable for such conduct.”

In his complaint, Neel accused NYU Langone of offering him as a “sacrificial lamb” so that the medical center could justify termination proceedings for physician Zaki Masoud. Masoud was removed from his residency program last month after he reposted a message in support of Palestinian resistance on a private Instagram account. Soon after, a petition to reinstate Masoud spread across social media, garnering over 89,000 signatures. Masoud did not respond to a request for comment.

The university is also facing a lawsuit from three Jewish students, who are claiming NYU has been indifferent to instances of antisemitism on campus and violated federal civil rights laws. The lawsuit came after hundreds of reports of antisemitism on campus, according to an October letter from the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life. NYU has denied the students’ allegations, and said it has been taking steps to prevent antisemitism on campus. A day after the lawsuit was filed, NYU announced it would establish a Center for the Study of Antisemitism using an anonymous donation, set to open next fall.

Contact Yezen Saadah at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Yezen Saadah
Yezen Saadah, Editor-in-Chief
Yezen Saadah is a junior studying cinema studies, journalism and Middle Eastern studies. He's a lover of cinema, history, art and literature, and he enjoys writing about pretty much anything. If he isn't in the newsroom or at the movies, he's probably just trying to enjoy his day off. Contact him on Instagram @yezen.saadah or send tips to [email protected]
Kevin Wu
Kevin Wu, Digital Director
Kaiyu (Kevin) Wu is a senior double-majoring in Media, Culture, and Communication and Journalism. He directs everything digital at WSN. You can directly reach him digitally at [email protected].

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