Former U of Pittsburgh dental professor wins appeal in discriminatory firing case

A federal appeals court judge on June 11 ruled in favor of a former University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine professor after she filed an ethnic discrimination lawsuit against the university, according to The Pitt News.

Snjezana Bagic, DMD, alleged that the dental school made false claims that she had made death threats toward a colleague in 2016. After eight years at the dental school, Dr. Bagic was fired in 2016 after an internal investigation found she had threated to kill associate professor Sean Noonan, DDS.

However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit overturned past rulings that dismissed Dr. Bagic's claims. The judge found that the death threats were an exaggeration brought up after Dr. Bagic filed professional complaints against Dr. Noonan, reports The Pitt News.

Dr. Bagic alleges her firing was in retaliation for filing complaints against Dr. Noonan. She claims Dr. Noonan abused his privileges by performing services for fees during clinical and administrative time. In April 2016, Dr. Bagic allegedly confronted Dr. Noonan about the issues and told him she would be filing a complaint.

In the lawsuit, Dr. Bagic claims Dr. Noonan then told several university officials that she had threatened to kill him in order to discredit her complaints against him, The Pitt News reports.

At the time, Thomas Braun, DDS, the dean of the dental school, assigned Bernard Costello, associate dean of faculty affairs, to investigate the claims. Dr. Bagic claims Mr. Costello failed to conduct an "appropriate and thorough" investigation.

On April 26, 2016, the chair of restorative dentistry and comprehensive care at the dental school met with Dr. Bagic and Mr. Costello to discuss the claims. The next day Dr. Bagic was fired. Dr. Bagic filed an internal appeal and hearings were held in March 2017. Dr. Bagic, however, was not reinstated to her position.

After the hearings, Dr. Bagic filed a lawsuit against the university and Mr. Costello. She is seeking $100,000 in damages.

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