A lawsuit from a former professor at the Alpert Medical School alleging gender discrimination and a hostile work environment was moved from state to federal court Friday, according to court filings reviewed by The Herald.
Dale Bond, a former professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the Med School, originally filed the lawsuit against Lifespan Corporation, Miriam Hospital, the University and Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior Rena Wing in January 2022. In the suit, filed in the Rhode Island Superior Court, Bond alleges he faced gender discrimination, retaliation and a hostile work environment that ultimately led to his resignation, among other claims.
Bond’s current complaint, updated in January 2023, alleges that the defendants violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in employment based on “race, color, religion, sex or national origin," along with the Rhode Island Civil Rights Act and the Rhode Island Fair Employment Act.
Lifespan, Miriam and Wing denied these allegations in their written response to the complaint submitted Feb. 13. Following a Feb. 24 notice of removal, the case moved to the U.S. District Court of Rhode Island due to federal jurisdiction over the Civil Rights Act.
According to the complaint, Bond was employed as a professor at the University and Miriam Hospital, which is part of Lifespan’s network of hospitals. The document also claims that Lifespan, Miriam and Brown “engage in a joint venture involving the hire, promotion, retention and termination of research faculty.”
The University will move to be taken off the case as a defendant, according to University Spokesperson Brian Clark.
“Brown University was not the employer or joint employer of the plaintiff in (the lawsuit) at any time relevant to this case,” Clark wrote in an email to The Herald. “The plaintiff’s research appointment at the University was an affiliation contingent upon the plaintiff’s continued employment with a local hospital partner.”
In the complaint, Bond alleges that during his employment, Wing “informed him that he might need to ‘prostitute’ himself to other departments” in order to acquire additional grant funding for his department, which he found “offensive and humiliating.”
The Miriam defendants admitted that Wing “encouraged (Bond) to pursue diverse funding sources,” according to their response.
Bond claims that Wing did not engage in the same behavior with “younger female employees,” actively helping them secure funding, including by “writing substantial portions of grants they submitted,” the complaint reads. Bond also claims that Wing “routinely diminished (his) accomplishments” and “actively discouraged” him from pursuing his research.
“Wing did not criticize nor demean similarly situated female colleagues in front of others in the way she did with (Bond),” the complaint continues.
In their response, the Miriam defendants stated that Wing “did not improperly criticize or demean researchers in front of others” and denied the claim that Wing diminished Bond’s research.
In February 2020, Bond met with the Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Professor Steven Rasmussen, to discuss Wing’s “increasingly hostile actions” and his “resulting distress,” according to the complaint. Rasmussen allegedly said he was unable to help because Wing operated “on her own” and “gets a lot of grants.” Rasmussen did not respond to a request for comment.
In January 2021, Wing informed Bond that his salary would be cut in half the following month and that he would be terminated from his position at the end of the year, according to the complaint. The Miriam defendants admitted to both allegations in their written response — though they denied that Bond was “forced to resign,” as he alleged.
Bond, now the director of research integration at Hartford Hospital, is seeking compensatory damages, according to the complaint.
Jillian Folger-Hartwell — one of the attorneys representing Lifespan, Miriam and Wing in the case — directed The Herald to Kathleen Hart, director of public relations at Lifespan, for comment. Hart did not immediately respond to multiple requests for comment. Wing also did not respond to a request for comment.
Christine Marinello and David Cass, the attorneys representing Bond, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Julia Vaz is a Metro editor covering the environment and crime and justice beats. She is a sophomore from Brazil studying Political Science and Literary Arts.
Neil Mehta is a University News section editor covering Institutional Equity and Student Affinity at The Brown Daily Herald. He also serves as the 133rd Editorial Board's design chief. He is a sophomore from Stony Brook, NY studying public health. Outside the office, you can find Neil baking, reading YA fiction and playing Tetris.