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Former NYU Med School Professor Claims She Was Fired for Complaining About Colleague’s Sexist Behavior

The professor allegedly blew smoke in her face and said "women don't belong in science."

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New York University’s School of Medicine is currently facing a lawsuit handed down to them by one of their former assistant professors, OraLee Branch. According to the New York Daily News, Branch alleges that because of the sexist treatment she experienced from the department head, Claudio Basilico, her career has been ruined. In the suit, she says that among sexist comments, Basilico was demeaning, blew cigarette smoke in her face, used aggressive body language, and more. Branch also says that after lodging complaints about Basilico, she was fired in retaliation, which caused her to lose her tenure-track position. Thus, her careerand her lifewere altered drastically.

The lawsuit, as the New York Daily News reports, details exactly the kinds of harassment Branch allegedly had to put up with. It reads: “He took a long drag of his cigarette and blew the smoke directly into her face. With aggressive tone and body language, he told her she was just a ‘girl’ who was ‘naïve and delusional’ if she thought she could succeed in science.” As well, Basilico refused to comment on a grant dispute involving Branch, saying he didn’t want to “come between cat-fighting women.”

The school has come out in defense of Basilico, saying, “We find the allegations of this law suit completely meritless and plan to vigorously defend the School of Medicine and its faculty against these baseless claims.”

(via Jezebel, image via Flickr/Brian Turner)

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Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (, and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters ( She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.