Defamation lawsuit accuses New Jersey hospital of 'bowing to Twitter mob'

The former director of physician recruitment at Mountainside Medical Center in Montclair, N.J., has sued the hospital for defamation, claiming she was fired after a photo appearing to show her doing a Nazi salute during a Black Lives Matter rally was posted to Twitter, according to

In a lawsuit filed Aug. 10, Valerie Pastore claims she was fired from Mountainside Medical Center, part of Hackensack Meridian Health, after someone captured a photo of her "waiving with her right hand extended above her head, and unleashed it on Twitter where it quickly went viral." She claims she was attending the rally to protect a statute of Christopher Columbus and was waving goodbye to protesters who were walking away when the photo was captured, according to the report.

"The Twitter lynch mob, viewing Valerie as a Trump supporter, seized on the opportunity to brand her a Nazi and destroy her life," states the complaint. Ms. Pastore was wearing a red "Trump 2020" hat in the photo. 

After the photo went viral, the health system conducted a "sham investigation" and then fired Ms. Pastore, the lawsuit alleges. 

"In bowing to a Twitter mob that demanded termination and reputational lynching of Valerie Pastore, [Hackensack Meridian Health], on June 29, conducted a sham investigation into the deliberately false, reprehensible and outrageous accusation that Valerie had given a Nazi salute during that demonstration," the lawsuit states. 

The complaint further alleges that the health system damaged Ms. Pastore's reputation by posting tweets "propagating its implicit conclusion that Valerie had given a Nazi salute." 

Ms. Pastore is suing the hospital for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. 

A hospital spokesperson told that it does not comment on pending litigation. 

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