If a PhD student has been bullied by their supervisor, should they take legal action and sue for damages? Taking legal action could prevent the supervisor from subjecting others to this treatment in the future. But could it also damage the students reputation and chances of pursuing further in academia? This is an edit to an original post that is a personal account relating to this question:

Original post: "She made a lot of false allegations and claims to defame me, the university is not firing her and has been protecting her which was why she could continuously making untrue events. Can I sue her?

I actually filed an appeal where she failed me without any solid evidence; I won my appeal. I filed informal and formal complaint with substantial evidences. She also filed a complaint but full of untrue events.

If you have not been bullied and in this situation, I appreciate it you move along. I considered to sue her so that she has less chances to continue to ruin the other students' life!

During the process of my formal complaint, she also made a complaint after me which the Student Union considers mischievous and inappropriate. In the complaint and many other meetings, she said so many untrue events, examples: I made the lab instruments dysfunctional; I said I want to publish papers with only my own name; the external advisor is very surprised that I didn't send the data to him however on the supervision log it clearly stated he was very aware of my tasks; I said her comments on something I wrote were not useful and not helpful; I made offensive languages etc etc...just so many so many! She also tampered my email in her complaint.

I have supervision log, email communications, recordings to support that she's made many untrue and inconsistent comments. I was following everything discussed and logged in supervision log, she completely ignores all communications and she uses her own law randomly.

It's her topic. No, I'm not considering to continue anything related to her."

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    The only part of this rant which is a question seems more of a legal question than an academic one; and a proper answer would require more precise details, to justify a lawsuit
    – Yemon Choi
    Oct 12, 2016 at 23:00

1 Answer 1


In order for us to help, we'd need some examples of the specific instances, and how much evidence you have.

At the first glance, it sounds like you may have a case since you say that you won the appeal, but also as a professor, I know that the university administration usually sides with the students unless the faculty has concrete evidence (an easy example is when I know that the student is cheating; unless the student confesses himself or we catch him red-handed, there are virtually no ways to get the student in trouble).

So, can you sue her? Maybe. But winning a university appeal and winning a lawsuit are two completely different things.

  • @LeonMeier I did say usually; never intended to make a blanket statement.
    – Sana
    Oct 12, 2016 at 23:24
  • There are so many untrue events and inconsistencies. She has no respect for the supervision log, email communications, even the recordings where certain things did not happen and she said it did, of course to make me look bad. Just too many...
    – JoJo C
    Oct 12, 2016 at 23:44

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