The renowned Harvard University behavioral ethics researcher accused of falsifying her data has filed a lawsuit against Harvard and the three professors who challenged her work, claiming that she is a victim of sex discrimination and heavy-handed university policies that violated her rights to due process.
Francesca Gino, who has been on administrative leave from Harvard Business School since earlier this year, filed her lawsuit in federal district court on Wednesday. She is suing Harvard University; Srikant Datar, the dean of Harvard Business School; and three professors who collectively run the online website DataColada.com: Uri Simonsohn, Leif Nelson, and Joseph Simmons. They are the three who accused Gino of fabricating her research data in a blistering series of blog posts published in June.
In addition to her lawsuit, Gino published a statement on LinkedIn where she declared: “I want to be very clear: I have never, ever falsified data or engaged in research misconduct of any kind.”
Gino then said Harvard and DataColada had conspired to undermine her reputation and career:
Today I had no choice but to file a lawsuit against Harvard University and members of the Data Colada group, who worked together to destroy my career and reputation despite admitting they have no evidence proving their allegations.
While claiming to stand for process excellence, they reached outrageous conclusions based entirely on inference, assumption, and implausible leaps of logic.
They created and perpetuated a false narrative about my ethics and integrity, which has had a devastating impact on my friends, colleagues, collaborators and, most of all, my family.
Gino’s 100-page lawsuit paints an unflattering picture. She accuses the DataColada gang of first approaching Harvard in 2021 with their claims that Gino had falsified data. They at first threatened to publish their allegations, which would put Harvard in an unflattering light; and then reached an agreement with Harvard that they would keep quiet while the university investigated their claims, in exchange for being able to see the results of that investigation and incorporate those findings into the posts they ultimately did publish.
Gino also claims that Harvard investigated the DataColada claims in accordance with a new employment policy created solely for her, without Gino’s knowledge. Then Harvard subjected Gino to “an onerous 18-month investigation,” the lawsuit says, didn’t find sufficient evidence of fraud, and still found Gino responsible for research misconduct anyway.
So now Gino is suing for $25 million in damages.
(This is a breaking story and will be updated.)