Former Researcher Sues Harvard
Law School Employee Claims Unfair Dismissal
Charging that he was dismissed from his job as a result of "personal animosity," a former Law School employee is suing the University and his supervisor for reinstatement and unspecified damages.
According to a complaint filed in Middlesex Superior Court, Bruce Kupelnick worked in the Law School Development Office as a part-time researcher for eight years before he was dismissed in March 1987 by then-Director of Development Research Susan A. Ehrman.
Ehrman wrote in a memorandum that she eliminated Kupelnick's position because of a departmental reorganization. But in court papers, Kupelnick claims the firing resulted from Ehrman's "personal dislike" for him.
To buttress his claim, the former employee cites a personal letter Ehrman apparently sent to members of her family in February 1987. In the complaint, Kupelnick says he received the letter "anonymously through the mail" shortly after he was notified of his termination.
"I am working on squeazing [sic] out a very bizarre character here," Ehrman wrote. "He is detested by just about everyone, has never received any decent supervision and I am the one who gets to deal with it head on. Not a pleasant situation--I really feel sorry for the guy. But he is horrible!"
Kupelnick filed the letter as an exhibit in the court complaint, which charges breach of contract, bad faith termination, breach of the implied convenant of good faith and fair dealing, malicious interference in advantageous employment relations and defamation and violation of civil rights.
In court documents, Kupelnick claims that a Harvard grievance panel found that his termination was partly based on "personal animosity," but declined to take action on his behalf.
According to current Law School employees, Ehrman left Harvard in June 1989.
Reached at her home in Charlotte, North Carolina, Ehrman denied that she fired Kupelnick out of animosity.
"No, of course it's not," Ehrman said of the accuracy of Kupelnick's contention that he was fired for personal reasons.
Ehrman also said she did not know who might have sent the personal letter to Kupelnick or how he might otherwise have received it.
But she declined to comment on the suit's other claims or on her current employment.
Ehrman said Allan A. Ryan, an attorney in Harvard's Office of General Counsel, is representing her in the suit.
Ryan could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Boston attorney Wendy A. Kaplan, who is representing Kupelnick in the suit, did not return repeated phone calls last week.