DRAMA! No, Really, the Former Head of Tisch Asia Is Suing NYU — Again

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Former founder, professor and head of Tisch Asia, Pari Shirazi, will be in court for her claims of defamation and employment claims against NYU. Shirazi was fired after being accused of embezzlement and mismanagement in 2011. She alleges accusations were unsubstantiated and now Shirazi and her lawyer Jennifer Freedman will be facing NYU, and NYU’s Former President John Sexton, among others in the New York appellate court.

This is a reversal of a 2014 decision that originally dismissed Shirazi’s claims.

“I am thrilled,” says Shirazi, in a press release. “This case has been heavy on my heart. After years of litigation, I finally feel like I’ve been heard.” She continued, “I am grateful to the New York courts which were willing to stand up to the powerful, vindictive NYU machine.”

Before Shirazi was forced out, she had worked for 30 years at NYU, starting at the Bursar’s office and working her way up, arriving to the United States as a political refugee from Iran. The decision of her case could have ramifications of cases across all of NYU’s departments, and even other universities, regarding “contractually enforceable parameters,” such as terms of employment. The decision could make it harder to terminate employee contracts.

The TL;DR version of her case is that basically, NYU broke it’s own policy in its attempt to defame and fire Shirazi, after Tisch Asia became a ship that needed jumping, especially in the light of John Sexton’s global campus goals. The kicker is that policy was a bilateral agreement between NYU and faculty.

“NYU’s treatment of Ms. Shirazi was an abuse of power from the very beginning,” says Freedman. “Thankfully, the Court recognized that even a rich and powerful institution like NYU cannot silence critics by defaming them. My client has lost 4 years of a very successful professional career due to this vindictive behavior.”

Her second lawsuit, one that alleges NYU discriminated against her due her being Iranian, is still pending appeal.

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