In a shocking turn of events, the Wilfrid Laurier professors who were forced to apologize for their treatment of teaching assistant Lindsay Shepherd after she showed a Jordan Peterson debate clip in class are now suing Shepherd over the same incident.
Wilfrid Laurier Professor Nathan Rambukkana came under a torrent of criticism after audio leaked of him berating a teaching assistant over her decision to play a public television debate clip that featured Jordan Peterson speaking on the topic of transgender pronouns. Just as Rambukkana was set to return to the classroom, he has decided to strike at Shepherd again.
Professors Rambukkana and Herbert Pimlott have filed a defamation lawsuit against Lindsay Shepherd for her part in releasing the private conversation that put the two professors in the spotlight. The conversation, which can be heard here, included Rambukkana telling Shepherd that she violated Canadian law when she played the Jordan Peterson debate clip in the classroom.
Rambukkana: — Gendered and Sexual Violence Policy. Do you understand how —
Shepherd: Sorry, what did I violate in that policy?
Joel: Um, so, gender-based violence, transphobia, in that policy. Causing harm, um, to trans students by, uh, bringing their identity as invalid. Their pronouns as invalid — potentially invalid.
Shepherd: So I caused harm?
Joel: — which is, under the Ontario Human Rights Code a protected thing so something that Laurier holds as a value.
Shepherd: Ok, so by proxy me showing a YouTube video I’m transphobic and I caused harm and violence? So be it. I can’t do anything to control that.
Rambukkana: Ok, so that’s not something that you have an issue with? The fact that that happened? Are you sorry that it happened?
Shepherd: I know in my heart, and I expressed to the class, that I’m not transphobic and if any of them — again, I don’t know what they said — but I don’t think I gave away any kind of political position of mine. I remained very neutral, and uh—
Rambukkana: —that’s kind of the problem.
Lindsay Shepherd, the teaching assistant, tweeted on Thursday that she had learned that Prof. Nathan Rambukkana would return to the classroom in the spring.
Shepherd filed a $3.6 lawsuit against the university in the summer, alleging that her experiences with the two professors was “harassment, intentional infliction of nervous shock, and constructive dismissal.” Shepherd also claimed in the suit that the incident and its subsequent media coverage has made her unemployable.
“For Lindsay Shepherd to be successful on punitive damages, for things like nervous shock or mental distress, she would have to show that Wilfrid Laurier University or its professors deliberately set out to harm her, as opposed to simply being negligent in their handling of the situation,” one Canadian lawyer said on the topic.
Some analysts suggest that the lawsuit from Rambukkana and Pimlott may have been filed simply to encourage Shepherd from dropping her own lawsuit against the professors and the university.
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