Doctor claims she was suspended for reporting sexual harassment at Sudbury medical school

There are allegations of sexual harassment at the medical school in Sudbury and the doctor making those allegations says she was suspended for coming forward. The school says that isn't true.

Dr. Ana Safavi has not told the school the name of the person who allegedly harassed her

In a statement from a Toronto communications firm, it's alleged that Dr. Ana Safavi "was suspended from the Northern Ontario School of Medicine's (NOSM) Internal Medicine residency program on February 2, after she disclosed that she had been sexually harassed by a faculty leader in her training program." (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

There are allegations of sexual harassment at the medical school in Sudbury and the doctor making those allegations says she was suspended for coming forward. 

Dr. Ana Safavi told CBC News she was suspended from the Northern Ontario Medical School's residency program Feb. 2 because she accused a faculty leader of sexual harassment.

Safavi said the harassment included "demeaning sexual and racially-oriented comments" in front of staff and in private. She said it also included "speculation about my sex life and sexual partners."

But Safavi said she has not told the medical school the name of the person who allegedly harassed her, despite their request to have him identified.

NOSM asking for name of alleged harasser

She adds the school has barred her from both her residency and from attending lectures until she provides a list of locations at the school where she may come into contact with her harasser. 

"If I told them even some basic information about the locations, that would allow them to narrow down who this person is and identify him," Safavi said.

She said before she does that, she wants a third-party investigator appointed, saying she's "scared" and that there's "a lot at stake."

Safavi said she wants to be certain the school can handle a harassment claim fairly.

"I want to make sure there is a transparent and fair process in place for everybody before I give any information that can identify him,"  she said.

"NOSM had originally promised to answer my questions, and also choose an investigator we were both comfortable with, then they went back on that promise."

Dr. Ana Safavi accused an employee of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine of sexually harassing her a year ago. She is now saying very little and the school is still investigating. (Sophie Houle-Drapeau/ Radio-Canada)

Medical school 'strongly refutes' claim

In response, medical school dean Dr. Roger Strasser said in a statement that he "strongly refutes" any claim that Safavi was suspended for reporting a sexual harassment claim.

Strasser said the school's policy is to treat these kinds of allegations confidentially, and said there will be no further comment until the internal investigation is complete.

"The Northern Ontario School of Medicine does not tolerate sexual harassment and is committed to ensuring the safety of our learners, staff and faculty," the statement reads.

"We treat allegations of sexual harassment very seriously, and will do everything necessary to ensure that any allegations brought forward are dealt with thoroughly."

Safavi said the school's statement comes as a shock.

"I'm surprised to hear they think they haven't suspended me because I'm not allowed  to work or go to school," she said. "They called me at noon on February 2 to tell me I'm not allowed to go to work, and to check my email."

In that email, Safavi said, she was informed by the school of her suspension until she provided the list of locations.