Court rules Groningen is free to fire critical lecturer

Dutch university can now dismiss Susanne Täuber, who had long accused it of flawed approaches to handling gender equality, discrimination and harassment

March 8, 2023
Source: iStock

A court has given the University of Groningen permission to fire Susanne Täuber, an organisational behaviour specialist and long-time critic of its gender equality efforts.

At a court hearing last month, lawyers representing Dr Täuber and Groningen’s Faculty of Economics and Business agreed that their working relationship had deteriorated to such a degree that she could no longer work there.

The dispute began with a 2019 paper in the Journal of Management Studies, in which Dr Täuber said the university’s Rosalind Franklin Fellowship entrenched gender inequality, rather than correcting it, drawing on her personal experiences as a fellow.

In 2021, she co-authored a report for the Groningen Young Academy that found those who complained about harassment or discrimination within the university faced intimidation, while perpetrators were protected. Ukrantthe university’s newspaper, said that while sitting on the university council Dr Täuber often raised issues around exclusion and discrimination.

During the February hearing, the university’s lawyer claimed Dr Täuber put strain on the relationship by accusing two of her managers of discrimination in a non-promotion complaint, adding that she failed to keep agreements and rejected an improvement process, local media reported.

On 8 March a district court judge found that her firing was justified by the disturbed working relationship. The university said it had done its best to find a suitable position for her elsewhere at the institution.

Dr Täuber, who sits on the Netherlands’ Advisory Committee on Diverse and Inclusive Higher Education and Research, has become a figurehead for some fighting against discrimination and hostile working conditions in academia.

The group Casual Groningen, which opposes precarity and short-term contracts, launched a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #AmINext? to highlight what they said was the silencing of a high-profile critic. Local media said dozens of people had turned up a protest timed to coincide with International Women’s Day.

Ukrant quoted a university spokeswoman as saying that Groningen did not want to comment on the verdict, or personal matters in general, but that Dr Täuber’s contract would be terminated.

Register to continue

Why register?

  • Registration is free and only takes a moment
  • Once registered, you can read 3 articles a month
  • Sign up for our newsletter
Please Login or Register to read this article.

Related articles

Reader's comments (4)

A sad day for gender equality.
All this on International Women's Day too...sad.
A sad day for open and honest debate on issues that can be challenging.
No suitable position elsewhere at the institution? Really?