Pro-vax NZ professor sues university for not shielding her from backlash

New Zealand court rules that the University of Auckland did not uphold its contractual obligations to protect Dr Siouxsie Wiles from online criticism over her contentious Covid-19 comments.

Pro-vax NZ professor sues university for not shielding her from backlash
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The Employment Court has determined that the University of Auckland failed to protect the 'health and safety' of its former associate professor, Dr Siouxsie Wiles.

This verdict follows a three-week hearing held last November after Dr Wiles raised concerns about the university's inadequate response to 'increasing harassment' during the Covid-19 pandemic. Dr Wiles, a microbiologist, became a prominent pro-vaccine public figure and commentator during New Zealand's response to the outbreak.

She drew controversy in 2021 and was labelled a 'big, fat hypocrite' over controversy surrounding her trip to the beach with a friend during lockdown..

In her ruling, Judge Joanna Holden stated that the university had breached its health and safety duties towards Dr Wiles.

"I find that the university's approach to dealing with the circumstances of Associate Professor Wiles breached its health and safety obligations to her in that it failed to provide adequate protection and support to her."

Additionally, the court found the university in violation of its contractual obligations to be a good employer as outlined in its Collective Agreement.

"Its obligation to be a good employer was also a term of the Collective Agreement and encompassed the University's obligation to act in good faith towards its employees. Therefore, I also make a declaration that the university breached its contractual obligations to be a good employer, including as a result of its failure to act in good faith."

Judge Holden noted that while the university promoted Dr Wiles' public work on Covid-19, it implied she was partly to blame for the negative backlash she received as the fallout continues over the global vaccination agenda.

"Rather than assisting Associate Professor Wiles to deal with the situation she was in, the correspondence from the university exacerbated her distress."

The judge rejected the university's assertion that the case was minor, signalling to the 'prolonged nature of the situation' and the 'significant distress' caused to Dr Wiles due to insufficient support.

The university has been ordered to compensate Dr Wiles with $20,000 within 28 days.

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