Swedish court rules firing of Jewish doctor was antisemitic, illegal

A neurosurgeon was fired last year from Karolinska University Hospital near Stockholm after complaining for years about pervasive antisemitism at the hospital.

The Swedish flag is seen at Gamla Stan, the Old City of Stockholm, Sweden, May 7, 2017. (photo credit: INTS KALNINS / REUTERS)
The Swedish flag is seen at Gamla Stan, the Old City of Stockholm, Sweden, May 7, 2017.
(photo credit: INTS KALNINS / REUTERS)

The Swedish Labor Court determined on Wednesday that there was no legal justification for the firing of a Jewish neurosurgeon in a drawn-out instance of deeply ingrained antisemitism targeting the surgeon at the Karolinska University Hospital near Stockholm, Sweden. The Court's ruling confirms the previously suspected fact that the Jewish physician was wrongfully fired from his job.  

“Dr. Svensson,” a pseudonym to protect the doctor’s identity, was fired last year after complaining for years about pervasive antisemitism at the Karolinska. His termination was the culmination of a series of backlash that included lowering his salary position reassignments. The case resulted in two stinging legal defeats for the management of the medical center, The Jerusalem Post exclusively reported in October.

The Lawfare Project, a New York City-based NGO, retained local counsel for Dr. Svensson to sue the hospital, addressing the discrimination and retaliation for Dr. Svensson’s complaints. After this case was filed in the District Court, the Swedish Medical Association filed a separate action in Labor Court on behalf of Dr. Svensson, specifically addressing his wrongful termination. 

“The Karolinska’s admission that it wrongfully fired a Jewish doctor who complained about the antisemitism he was repeatedly subjected to is stunning,” Gerard Filitti, The Lawfare Project’s Senior Counsel, said. “It is highly unusual for a defendant to admit that it had no valid legal reason to fire an employee. This is the essence of wrongful discharge, and the Karolinska’s admission draws a straight line between the discrimination targeting Dr. Svensson, and the unlawful retaliation he experienced when he reported it.”  

Before court ruling, Karolinska Hospital suffered two legal defeats for antisemitic treatment

 A tent is put up by the entrance to Karolinska University Hospital in Solna that prepares for new patients due to coronavirus outbreak, in Stockholm, Sweden March 19, 2020. (credit: ANDERS WIKLUND/TT NEWS AGENCY/VIA REUTERS) A tent is put up by the entrance to Karolinska University Hospital in Solna that prepares for new patients due to coronavirus outbreak, in Stockholm, Sweden March 19, 2020. (credit: ANDERS WIKLUND/TT NEWS AGENCY/VIA REUTERS)

Back in October, The Post obtained a six-page letter sent by the Lawfare Project that outlined “pervasive antisemitism that appears to have become normalized and systematized at the Karolinska University Hospital and Karolinska Institutet.”

The letter noted that “We are particularly concerned with the appalling treatment of one of your Jewish physicians.” The Lawfare Project uses legal action to “vindicate the civil and human rights of Jewish people worldwide.”

THE SECOND legal victory centered on the hospital’s bogus retaliatory complaint against the surgeon, the project said.

“It is highly unusual for a defendant to admit that it had no valid legal reason to fire an employee. This is the essence of wrongful discharge, and the Karolinska’s admission draws a straight line between the discrimination targeting Dr. Svensson, and the unlawful retaliation he experienced when he reported it.”

Gerard Filitti, The Lawfare Project’s Senior Counsel

The Lawfare project wrote: “In retaliation for complaining about antisemitism, the Karolinska submitted an unfounded complaint against Dr. [X] to the Swedish Health and Care Inspectorate, claiming that he was a risk for patient safety. 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.

"Apparently, Karolinska believes that being Jewish compromises patient safety," continued the Lawfare Project. "This directly mirrors the Nazi-era racist ideology that regarded Jews as ‘parasitic vermin’ worthy only of eradication. Reporting Jewish identity as “relevant information” for patient safety is not only morally despicable but also appears to be illegal under Swedish law." 

Benjamin Weinthal contributed to this report