Lawfully dismissed university lecturer after criticism of corona tests

This appears from a decision made by the district court judge in Rotterdam, which was published on Monday.

Since 2003, the man has worked as a microbiologist at the Erasmus Medical Center with a turnover of almost 2.1 billion euros, the second largest university hospital in the Netherlands. In his position he taught, among other things, and carried out scientific research.

The relationship soured

From 2020, the year of the outbreak of the corona pandemic, the relationship between the microbiologist and his employer has soured. For example, the man is repeatedly prosecuted for his criticism of his employer’s and government’s testing and vaccination policies.

A controversial internal presentation to colleagues in November 2021 puts relations on edge. Because the microbiologist during that discussion of scientific literature would have suggested that vaccination would have more negative than positive effects, he was suspended as a speaker.

“In my opinion, an educator who does not take science seriously and abuses his position to cast doubt on the scientific and social value of vaccinations is not welcome within our research master’s program,” the program director writes to him.

Agreement broken

In a follow-up conversation with his superiors, the man says that it was not his intention to make a plea against corona vaccinations, and promises to send those present an email in which he corrects the picture he has made. However, he never sends that email.

In the months that follow, the gap between employer and employee only widens. The university hospital insists on follow-up interviews and mediation, but the microbiologist systematically avoids these.

Citizen journalist

In May, the microbiologist informed his employer that he would participate in an online broadcast by a so-called ‘citizen journalist’, where he discusses an investigation into corona tests. After seeing that video, the university hospital insists on postponing the broadcast.

If the microbiologist again fails to attend a meeting a month later, where he had to explain the realization of a study, the limit has been reached for his employer. On 21 June, the man is summarily fired.

In addition, the university hospital presents a laundry list of grounds for dismissal. For example, by expressing his personal views against the instructions and agreements that do not agree with the hospital’s views, the man would “discredit the honor and good name of his employer and colleagues” and “create great social unrest”.

To the court

The microbiologist is not satisfied with his dismissal and goes to court to get his job back. During the trial, the man argues, among other things, that the university hospital wants to silence him because he thinks differently about his employer’s and the government’s vaccination and testing policy.

A judgment published on Monday shows that the Rotterdam District Court does not agree with him. The court does not comment on issues of freedom of expression, but focuses on the finding that the man did not comply with reasonable wishes and instructions from his employer.

Seriously guilty

Because, according to the high court, the lecturer-researcher has acted seriously culpably, Erasmus Medical Center is allowed to put the man on the street without paying him a krone in transitional allowance or extra severance pay. However, the hospital must pay him back any wrongfully withheld compensation.

Erasmus Medical Center refrains from commenting on the matter. “We have nothing to add to the verdict.” The microbiologist was unavailable for comment today but has announced on social media that he is considering an appeal.

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