In a 100-page lawsuit filed on Wednesday in a Massachusetts federal court, the award-winning professor accused both Harvard and the data scientists who ran the blog Data Colada–who published the initial accusations against Gino–of a “smear campaign” including false and defamatory statements about her work.
“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,” Gino wrote in a LinkedIn Post.
She continued to outline the negative effects the accusations have had, claiming that both the university and blog “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.”
“I want to be very clear: I have never, ever falsified data or engaged in research misconduct of any kind,” she added.
The accusations made by Data Colada go as far back as 2021, when three business school professors uncovered a landmark paper co-authored by Gino in 2012 that contained falsified results. Their findings were reported to Harvard Business School that same year.
Based on the blog’s assertions, Harvard proceeded to launch an internal 18-month investigation into her work in 2022, which ultimately found Gino guilty of “research misconduct”.
In punishment, she was barred from entering Harvard campus, and the publication and circulation of her research was immediately banned from the business school’s platforms.
News of Gino’s alleged fraud was later made public in June of this year, in an article published in the Chronicle. This was followed by a four-part series of posts published by Data Colada, outlining the allegations against the professor.
However, Gino maintains that Harvard failed to make its determination of misconduct in accordance with its own policies.
The lawsuit alleges that during the investigation, none of Gino’s collaborators or researchers interviewed by the committee provided any evidence that the behavioral scientist had ever pressured anyone to falsify results.
The document further claims that Harvard “negotiated an agreement” with the blog writers, in which the university would investigate Gino in return for their silence during the proceedings.
The lawsuit is also accuses the school of sexism, claiming that male professors under similar accusations were investigated using different proceedings.
Regarding Data Colada, the lawsuit states the blog writers supported their accusations using undisclosed evidence–which included “their own report which was, in large part, based on sheer speculation and Harvard’s investigation report, which they had not seen.”
Gino is seeking damages of at least $25 million and injunctive relief, according to the lawsuit.
Once one of Harvard’s highest paid professors, Gino claims she has been on unpaid administrative leave since June, while her teaching duties, research responsibilities and titled professorship have also been stripped.