Breaking: Professor suspended for three days for workplace harassment

University District

Engineering professor who alleged research misconduct suspended without pay until Thursday

Last updated: Aug. 20 at 11:04 p.m.
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Professor Morteza Shirkhanzadeh learned on Monday that he would be suspended for three days without pay for workplace harassment.

The engineering professor received a letter on Aug. 17 from University Provost and Vice Principal (Academic) Alan Harrison informing him of the decision.

The letter states that the suspension will take place over three days: Aug. 18, 19 and 20.

For the last 10 years, Shirkhanzadeh has brought allegations of plagiarism and fabricated data in scientific papers written by other Queen’s professors to the University. 

Read the original story: Professor's academic freedom violated, report finds

When he was dissatisfied by the University’s investigations into his claims, Shirkhanzadeh published his allegations on his personal website, the Little Office of Research Integrity (LORI) in 2012.

The University charged him with workplace harassment in 2014 based on posts on his website.

The decision to suspend Shirkhanzadeh comes months after the University declared that a 2014 settlement between Queen’s and the professor was now null and void due to a provision in the agreement.

The original settlement stated that the University wouldn’t pursue further discipline regarding harassment against Shirkhanzadeh, if he dropped the grievance he’d filed through the Queen’s University Faculty Association (QUFA). The grievance concerned Shirkhanzadeh’s claim that the University violated his academic freedom.

Related: Teachers’ association questions University’s actions

Prior to the decision, Shirkhanzadeh was invited to two meetings with Provost Harrison — scheduled for August 12 — to discuss the University’s harassment investigation against him and to address another grievance he filed on July 16.

Shirkhanzadeh told The Journal he cancelled the meetings due to his belief that the Provost’s leading role in the investigation violates his right to procedural fairness as stated in the QUFA Collective Agreement.

Shirkhanzadeh filed the grievance on July 16 based on section 20.3.1 of the QUFA Collective Agreement. The section states that the person who leads an investigation must be someone who has had no previous decision-making authority respecting the allegation.


Excerpt from grievance filed by Shirkhanzadeh
(Supplied by Morteza Shirkhanzadeh)

Along with filing a grievance, he said he told the University to delay the harassment investigation and wait for the Secretariat on Responsible Conduct of Research (SRCR) to review the University’s report.

“I have informed Dan Bradshaw (Associate Vice-Principal (Faculty Relations) [sic] that my proposal for delaying the investigation is consistent with the Provost’s recent statement in the Queen’s Journal that ‘All allegations and assessments of those allegations are ultimately reviewed by a third party external to the university’,” Shirkhanzadeh told The Journal via email.

He said he believes the University's investigation had a number of serious problems and Queen’s didn’t comply with its own research integrity policy. 

In an email to The Journal, Provost Harrison stated that he would not comment on the specifics of Shirkhanzadeh's case, as the "University does not comment publicly on personnel matters."

"The University has a responsibility to maintain a workplace that is free from harassment; it takes this responsibility seriously, and investigates, and acts upon, findings of harassment accordingly," Harrison stated.

Shirkhanzadeh has continued to update his website, LORI, throughout his disputes with the University.

This article will be updated when more information becomes available. 

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Information taken from LORI, CAUT's report and Dr. Shirkanzadeh's own report.

 

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