Unpaid Suspension from the University

Published October 20, 2021


(This post originally appeared in Aaron Kheriaty’s Substack newsletter “Human Flourishing.” Read other issues and subscribe to the newsletter here.)

Yesterday I received this notice from the University of California, where I have worked my entire professional career and where I did my residency training:

I am working on setting up or joining a private practice so that I can continue to treat my patients and earn an income next month. I am not the only one at the University that recently received this same letter. Several other employees have reached out to me who will likewise soon be suspended without pay.

A few months ago I received the following in an email from a fellow UC Professor—a progressive man of the left—who is very supportive of my lawsuit challenging UC’s vaccine mandate. With his permission, I am sharing it with you now, as I think it illustrates what many of us have been facing in the past several months. Like his story and mine, there are countless others who are now being unjustly fired over noncompliance with these mandates. All of us have a story:

I have felt completely silenced given the large-scale, CDC, media, and now UC Regents driven demonization of anyone daring to offer critical questions with respect to the exclusion of the category of natural immunity from conversations about the pandemic and best practices in that regard. I am Black person, on a single-income, and remain basically one lost paycheck away from economic precarity so I have felt pressured into remaining silent on this issue given the way those who have spoken out have been attacked, fired from their jobs, etc.

My silence in this issue is ironic given that my research and writing are often viewed as controversial and against the grain, but with this particular issue the fascist sort of quelling of any debate has given me pause from speaking out for one of the first times in my life.

I wish that I had time and space to post the many thousands of similar stories here. If you know people facing termination from their job due to these mandates, reach out to them today and offer encouragement and support. I am continuing to pursue my lawsuit in federal court not just for myself, but for all those of us who have been adversely impacted by coercive mandates.

Aaron Kheriaty is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he directs EPPC’s program in Bioethics and American Democracy.

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