Toronto-based Diamond and Diamond Lawyers have initiated a class action lawsuit addressing anti-Semitic incidents at three major Canadian universities: Toronto Metropolitan University, Queens University, and The University of British Columbia.
The lawsuit seeks damages amounting to $15 million for each institution.
Representing both current Jewish students and alumni dating back to 1998, the lawsuit alleges that the universities exhibited negligence. The institutions are accused of not effectively addressing anti-Semitic incidents, contravening their non-discrimination policies, and inadequately training staff on how to deal with harassment.
Managing Partner at Diamond and Diamond Lawyers, Sandra Zisckind, expressed her dismay, stating, “Despite being alerted multiple times by the Plaintiffs about anti-Semitic incidents, the universities repeatedly failed to take substantial corrective actions, often merely offering superficial statements without any genuine resolution.” She emphasized the universities’ responsibility, adding, “They own the campus spaces in question and must be held accountable.”
The lawsuit draws attention to a series of incidents. Notably, in November 2022, anti-Semitic graffiti, including a swastika found on a refrigerator in a Jewish student’s residence, was identified at Queen’s University. Furthermore, in 2015, Jewish students at Toronto Metropolitan University reported graffiti in a washroom that spewed hateful sentiments, urging Jews and their allies to “burn in hell.”
Darryl Singer, who heads class actions at Diamond and Diamond Lawyers, noted the significance of universities’ accountability. He stated, “Given the universities’ explicit policies regarding the use and governance of their spaces, as well as their professed responsibility over faculty, staff, and student organizations, the institutions are vicariously liable for any actions on their premises that breach their values and standards.” Singer further clarified that the primary aim of the lawsuit isn’t monetary but to prevent such incidents from happening in the future.
Diamond and Diamond Lawyers encourage individuals who believe they have experienced anti-Semitism, and who meet the criteria for the class, to reach out to them at 1-800-567-HURT.