Physician sues NYU Langone over firing tied to Israel-Hamas social media use

The former director of NYU Langone Health's cancer center is suing the system over his firing, which occurred after he used social media to express views on the Israel-Hamas war. 

Benjamin G. Neel, MD, PhD, claimed he was terminated Nov. 10 for reposting tweets to X (formerly known as Twitter) that "criticized people who supported the violence toward and death of Israelis," according to the Nov. 16 complaint as reported by Bloomberg

NYU Langone suspended Dr. Neel on Oct. 31 and told him he would be fired as director of the system's Perlmutter Cancer Center in response to "social media reactions and some patient complaints" about the reposts, according to the civil lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court. 

Dr. Neel has led the National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center since 2015. He is a cancer biologist whose research focuses on cell signaling in cancer and developmental disease and the biology of breast and ovarian cancer. 

Although Dr. Neel says he has not treated patients in 35 years, he alleges that NYU Langone Health's suspension and termination damaged his reputation and harmed his employment opportunities. His complaint seeks trial by jury and at least $500,000 in damages.

Steve Ritea, senior director of media relations for NYU Langone Health, shared the following statement with Becker's

"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. Several times since last month, we reminded all employees of our high standards, as well as our Code of Conduct and Social Media Policy. Nonetheless, Dr. Ben Neel, as a leader at our institution, disregarded these standards in a series of public social media posts and later locked his Twitter/X account. NYU Langone stands by our decision and looks forward to defending it in court."

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