Court of appeal says social safety expert Susanne Täuber’s firing was justified

The UG was justified in firing social safety expert Susanne Täuber. The judge presiding over the appeal determined there was no connection between her dismissal and a critical article she’d published.

Täuber was fired last year after a labour dispute with the UG. She claims she was systematically discriminated against and sabotaged in her career.

The case caused quite a stir at the university and beyond. Täuber’s colleagues and students launched a protest against the decision and occupied the Academy building twice. Täuber also received a lot of international support. She was even the only Dutch academic on the Scholars at Risk list.

Criticising the system

The case revolved around a critical article Täuber published in the Journal of Management Studies (JMS). For the article, she used her own experience as a Rosalind Franklin Fellow at the Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB) to criticise the system. She showed how programmes intended to help women flourish can actually get in their way. The article caused outrage among academics.

Täuber says the article is the cause of the labour dispute and her subsequent firing. She therefore invoked the right to freedom of speech. She also says the UG shouldn’t have fired her because at the time, she was a member of the university council. 


The court in the north of the Netherlands ratified her dismissal in March of 2023 due to a damaged working relationship, but did say the UG was guilty of escalating the dispute. Täuber decided to launch an appeal. Wednesday’s verdict shows that the court agrees with the university.

Täuber failed to prove that her career had been obstructed, it says. In fact, the judge said her displeasure was ‘blown out of proportion’.

‘By using terms like “scientific harassment” and “sexist” in her email dating back to August 2018, the appellant not only blew the case out of proportion, but also insulted her supervisor’, the court said.


The judge did say that the critical article she then wrote played a role in her dismissal. ‘But the chain of events didn’t start with the essay.’ The fact that Täuber was retroactively promoted to the position of level 1 associate professor is an ‘important counter-indication that the request for contract resolution from late 2022 was in response to her essay’.

Her seat on the university council also wasn’t a good reason to retain her services, the judge said. Her dismissal had nothing to do with her job as a member of the council.

Increase salary scale

Finally, the UG wasn’t obligated to increase the salary scale of functions to ensure they suited Täuber, another one of her demands. The court did agree with Täuber on one occasion: the district court had ordered her to pay the legal costs. But this court decided each party is responsible for its own costs of the procedure.

A spokesperson for the UG said the ‘case was hard on everyone involved’. But the court of appeal, she says, has determined that the labour agreement between Täuber and the uni was dissolved due to a dispute, and that it was not a punishment for the critical article in JMS. As such, Täuber’s freedom of speech was not violated.

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