Swedish court rules in favor of Jewish doctor, says firing was antisemitic

The neurosurgeon had alleged that the dismissal had been the culmination of years of harassment at Karolinska Hospital.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A Swedish court ruled Wednesday that a Jewish doctor had been wrongfully fired from his position at a hospital near the capital due to antisemitism, Dagens Nyheter (DN) reported.

The neurosurgeon, who was given the pseudonym “Dr. Svensson” to protect his privacy, was dismissed from his post at Karolinska University Hospital last fall. According to a February report in rival Swedish paper Svenska Dagbladet, a press officer in the hospital said the reason for his firing was “to secure the working environment for managers and employees in his vicinity.”

The doctor promptly took the medical institution to District Court for what he deemed was an unlawful dismissal. The real reason, he maintained, was that it was retaliation for having sued Karolinska in 2018 for the constant antisemitic harassment he and other Jewish colleagues were undergoing at work.

His original lawsuit stated that his department head had long intimidated and verbally attacked the Jewish doctors and promoted less-qualified colleagues over them, while the hospital administration did nothing. According to Swedish station SVT, the doctor said that besides the bullying, they were also prevented from doing research and that he, personally, had not been allowed to work in his specialty for almost two years.

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Two of his fellow victims left their positions during this time.

Svensson has been receiving legal assistance since then from the U.S.-based Lawfare Project, which provides pro bono services to protect the civil and human rights of the Jewish people all over the world. According to some of the letters his lawyers wrote to the court since his removal, the doctor had suffered a “years-long campaign of reprisals to intimidate and silence him” since the lawsuit, culminating in the dismissal.

The organization said that Karolinska had fabricated a complaint against their client to the medical authorities, claiming that he was a risk to patients.

Moreover, the lawyers wrote, “In a shocking display of the Karolinska’s institutionalized Jew-hatred, the complaint identified Dr. X’s Jewish identity as ‘relevant information’ with regard to the risk he allegedly posed for patient safety.

“Reporting Jewish identity as ‘relevant information’ for patient safety is not only morally despicable but also appears to be illegal under Swedish law,” the organization pointed out.

The authorities closed the complaint without criticizing the physician.

The Swedish Medical Association filed a separate case in support of the doctor against the hospital in Labor Court, demanding compensation for “wrongful termination.” It is this court that decided that the physician’s dismissal was illegal and antisemitic in nature.

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The hospital’s human resources director, Patricia Enocson, told DN, “We accede to the lawsuit is because we know that if we were to dispute it, it would be a lengthy legal process.”

The senior physician who was at the center of the allegations took a leave of absence when Svensson’s complaints went public in 2018. He returned to an administrative position some six months later and by 2020 was allowed to start working again in his field.

The doctor’s lawsuit over the allegedly institutionalized Jew hatred at Karolinska made the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s list of its Top Ten antisemitic incidents in 2018.