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HomeLawTHE LAWFARE PROJECT TOGETHER WITH CO-COUNSEL EISEMAN LEVINE LEHRHAUPT AND KAKOYIANNIS, P.C.,...

THE LAWFARE PROJECT TOGETHER WITH CO-COUNSEL EISEMAN LEVINE LEHRHAUPT AND KAKOYIANNIS, P.C., FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

Leading Pro Bono Jewish Legal Organization Represents Columbia Student Who Allegedly Was Subjected to Antisemitic Discrimination and Retaliation by University Faculty and Administration.

NEW YORK, Feb. 12, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — The Lawfare Project (LP) together with co-counsel Eiseman Levine Lehrhaupt and Kakoyiannis, P.C., announced today that they have filed a lawsuit on behalf of Mackenzie Forrest, a Jewish student at Columbia University’s School of Social Work (CSSW), who was allegedly forced out of an academic program after she requested religious and safety accommodations.

As detailed in the lawsuit, Mackenzie began attending CSSW in August 2022 and was subsequently admitted into the specialized Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Program (DBT). Mackenzie’s initial antisemitic encounter with faculty occurred when her request for accommodation for her Sabbath observance was met with resistance and only begrudgingly provided after significant pressure was placed on her to forgo it. Then, in the wake of Hamas’s attack on Israel, when the campus devolved into a cauldron of antisemitism, feeling physically unsafe, Mackenzie reported the hostile environment to faculty and requested permission to take classes via Zoom. Although that accommodation is routinely granted to other students, it was not extended to her. Soon after Mackenzie’s request, faculty members began a campaign to force her out of the program. After fabricating pretexts to justify failing her, they were ultimately successful.

“The vitriolic and antisemitic environment at Columbia to which Jewish students like Mackenzie have been subjected to is utterly indefensible,” said Ziporah Reich, Director of Litigation at LP. “Mackenzie’s right to an education in an environment where she feels physically safe is a fundamental, non-negotiable right protected by law. The university’s refusal to provide Mackenzie with a basic accommodation to ensure her safety is not only shameful, but a dereliction of the university’s moral and legal responsibilities. Such negligence demands accountability.”

LP is seeking injunctive relief and money damages based on federal, state, and common law claims arising out of the pervasively hostile environment Mackenzie has been subjected to and Columbia’s unlawful discrimination and retaliation against her because of her status as a Jew.

Columbia University failed Mackenzie and decided to launch a retaliatory campaign instead of protecting her from Jew-hatred,” said Brooke Goldstein, Founder and Executive Director of LP. “If the university had provided her with the appropriate accommodations that she is legally entitled to, we would not be in this situation. Columbia, like any other college and university, must protect the civil rights of their students and provide them with safe learning environments free of discrimination.”

“It is simply not acceptable that some American colleges and universities tolerate and foster antisemitism,” said Eric Levine, Head of the Litigation Department of Eiseman Levine Lehrhaupt and Kakoyiannis, P.C., “If this lawsuit is about nothing else, it is about bringing those days to an end.”

For more information about The Lawfare Project, please visit their website or contact James Lambert, Vice President at Rubenstein Public Relations, at [email protected] or at 212-805-3024.

ABOUT THE LAWFARE PROJECT:

The Lawfare Project (LP) is the leading organization dedicated to protecting the civil and human rights of Jewish people worldwide through legal action.

SOURCE The Lawfare Project

Originally published at https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/the-lawfare-project-together-with-co-counsel-eiseman-levine-lehrhaupt-and-kakoyiannis-pc-files-lawsuit-against-columbia-university-302060122.html
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