Turning down a Grindr hookup has posed some real-life consequences to Alberto Leguina-Ruzzi, a Chilean grad student working toward a PhD at New York's Columbia University. Details follow.
Alberto has filed a lawsuit against the University claiming that he was fired after making the school aware that he had been harassed on Grindr by his nephrology department supervisor, Dr. Qais Al-Awqati. On March 9, Alberto received a message on Grindr from a user claiming to be his supervisor who asked Alberto if he "would date an older man," according to the lawsuit filed in New York in late July.
The Columbia Spectator takes it from here:
Leguina, uninterested, said he ignored the message, and when it was followed by a picture of [his supervisor, Qais Al-Awqati, a professor of medicine, nephrology and hypertension], he figured it was a prank.
However, the response convinced him the message really was from the professor. “I have many guys as beautiful and as young as you,” Al-Awqati responded on Grindr, according to the lawsuit. “So it is not a joke. You need to have better manners when in New York. Maybe in Argentina or Chile, you are a spoiled Mamma’s boy.”
Leguina said he was confused—was this really one of the leading experts in hypertension? “Qais Al-Awqati was the one who I wanted to work with. He’s a reference for me,” he said. “It was my dream. I was doing what I wanted, I was working on what I wanted, with whom I really wanted to work.”
Alberto filed a complaint with the human resources department and was met by a less-than-concerned response from HR manager Mayra Marte-Miraz. “She promised me that nothing was going to happen, that they were going to make an investigation,” Alberto said. “She said, ‘Don’t worry, I promise you your work is not going to be affected.’”
But a few days later, HR simply instructed Alberto to "deal with this matter like a big man" and act like "nothing happened." If he couldn't do that, Alberto says, then HR would see to it that he was sent back to Chile.
Alberto tried to keep following his dreams, but the stress, continued affection from his supervisor and allegedly odd handling by the HR department delivered him into depression. “I was shaking in the morning thinking about how I had to go to the lab, what was going to happen today."
After another meeting with HR in which Marte-Miraz reportedly told Alberto that his issue all boiled down to big-city shock, his supervisor, Dr. Al-Awqati, began to complain about his work. (However, Alberto notes awards and accolades he had received up to that point from Al-Awqati himself.)
Without receiving a formal notification from his supervisor or Columbia due to the ongoing sexual harassment investigation, Alberto instead was informed by his supervisors in Chile that he had to leave New York because of negative feedback from Al-Awqati.
Alberto's lawsuit seeking an unspecified amount of damages. Columbia University has not yet made a public statement regarding the suit and allegations.
(Source and first image: Columbia Spectator; Image of Dr. Al-Awqati: Columbia.edu)