TMU Student Suing University for Fostering Poisoned Antisemitic Environment

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|April 25, 2024

Toronto, ON – April 25, 2024 – This week, a Statement of Claim against Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) was filed in the Ontario Superior Court on behalf of a Jewish student at TMU who experienced individual, institutional, and structural antisemitism. 

The Plaintiff is an undergraduate student at TMU who was also employed part-time by the University until January 2024. The lawsuit outlines TMU's actions and inaction with respect to ongoing and pervasive antisemitism and intimidating, offensive, demeaning, threatening, disruptive, unwelcome, and unwanted conduct toward the Plaintiff and other Jewish students, staff, and faculty at TMU since October 7, 2023. These actions and inaction have led to a toxic, antisemitic learning and working environment. The lawsuit details the allegations that, in addition to being wrongfully dismissed from her employment by TMU, the University breached its contract with her, breached its duties of care to her, and discriminated against her by failing to apply its own policies and procedures explicitly designed to protect students like her from the antisemitic environment that exists and is fostered at TMU. 

Some examples of the egregious harassment and discrimination the Plaintiff and other Jewish TMU community members endured that TMU has either ignored or inadequately addressed include: 

  • The Plaintiff was regularly confronted by antisemitic violence-inciting slogans in use at rallies and protests, and on signs and graffiti throughout TMU and in TMU buildings. The offending rhetoric includes "Intifada" (including "long live the Intifada," "Intifada until victory," and "globalize the Intifada") and "Only one solution, Intifada revolution." TMU President Lachemi appeared to confirm to Members of Parliament on January 24, 2024, that such slogans would be contrary to the TMU Conduct Policies. 

  • In March 2024, students in TMU buildings walked around with signs that stated: "Zionism Off Our Campus."  To the Plaintiff and other Jewish students, staff, and faculty, this was a call for Jews to be removed from campus. This incident deeply affected the Plaintiff, leading her to question her place in an institution that tolerates this rhetoric.  

  • While participating in the "Silent Protest for Peace & Humanity" at TMU on November 3, 2023, the Plaintiff and other participants were surrounded by a group of students who intimidated, harassed, and interfered with their ability to protest. One of the accosting TMU students was heard saying "next time on campus you won't be together" – a clear threat to the participants’ safety. TMU students spat on the ground in front the Plaintiff and the group with whom she was protesting. Although present, TMU security took no action to prevent or stop such conduct. TMU security was needed to escort the Plaintiff and other participating students to safety while the harassing TMU students followed.

  • Following October 7, the Plaintiff experienced a toxic antisemitic work environment. Interactions with Student-Staff colleagues became cold and unwelcoming, with the Plaintiff ultimately being ignored and ostracized in TMU Student-Staff social circles. Additionally, Student-Staff colleagues began posting inappropriate political messaging within the workplace, including on the Plaintiff’s property, which made the Plaintiff and Jewish student patrons uncomfortable.

For a full accounting of the events that led to the lawsuit, read the Statement of Claim, here

The Plaintiff is suing for general damages of $300,000, for special damages, for damages for wrongful dismissal, and for $1,000,000 in punitive damages. The claim also asks the court to declare that, by failing to apply – or by inadequately applying – TMU’s own conduct policies, they violated commitments made to the Plaintiff and breached the duties of care owed to her and the other Jewish TMU community members. The Plaintiff is asking the Court to direct TMU to apply its own policies in a complete and fulsome manner to any and all conduct involving Jewish TMU community members and report to the TMU community thereon. 

The legal challenge is led by Toronto-based lawyer David Rosenfeld, a member of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs’ Legal Task Force.  


David Rosenfeld, Partner, Koskie Minsky LLP: 

“No one, let alone students paying for the privilege of attending an institute of higher learning, should have to face the environment that the Plaintiff and other Jewish students at TMU have experienced. TMU has policies in place that expressly prohibit the conduct that she and other Jewish students have been forced to endure. These policies appear to be mere platitudes when it comes to their application to conduct affecting Jewish students. The failure to openly enforce their own policies fans the flames of hate and exclusion on campus.   

“Since the administration will not act, and neither will our elected officials, this courageous 22-year-old has taken it upon herself to hold this institution to account.” 

Richard Marceau, Vice President, External Affairs and General Counsel, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA): 

“CIJA is determined to use all the legal tools at our disposal to combat antisemitism, discrimination, and double standards.   

“We are supporting Jewish union members who have commenced proceedings against their union, the Public Service Alliance. We are taking the federal government to court for resuming funding to UNRWA despite its ties to Hamas. Now, we are helping a Jewish student suing TMU for its utter failure to protect her and fellow students. And we’re not done. Other proceedings are on the way. Because Canadian Jews deserve the full protection of the law.”   


Additional Background 

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Le Centre consultatif des relations juives et israéliennes (CIJA) est l'agence de représentation de Fédérations juives du Canada - UIA, représentant les fédérations juives à travers le Canada. En cliquant sur  «  Sign up , »  vous acceptez de recevoir des mises à jour périodiques de CIJA. Vous pouvez vous désabonner à tout moment.
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The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs is the advocacy agent of Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA, representing Jewish Federations across Canada.