ROCHESTER, Minnesota (PNN) - November 19, 2023 - A renowned anesthesiology professor at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science in Minnesota is suing the institution for violating his speech rights.
Dr. Michael J. Joyner claims he was disciplined for telling media his assessment of biological men participating in women's sports.
The legal action was filed in Olmsted County in Minnesota, naming the clinic, its college of medicine, Gianrico Farrugia, the clinic's president, and Carlos B. Mantilla, a manager for the institution's anesthesiology and perioperative medicine department, as defendants.
Joyner charges that Mayo officials ignored the organization's "promise of free expression and academic freedom for faculty."
He explains he was told to confine himself to "prescribed messaging".
"Free speech and academic freedom do not become less important because of public disagreement or debate," the complaint explains. "To the contrary, it is precisely during times of intense disagreement that unbiased research and expert opinions of faculty are most in service to the public."
Joyner, one of the most visible personnel at Mayo, has coauthored some 500 medical studies.
Mayo officials claimed that Joyner violated a number of institute policies and was reprimanded. It pointed out it hired a lawyer to review the situation and the lawyer, paid by the institute, found Mayo's actions were not prompted by retaliation.
Kellie Miller, Joyner's lawyer, said the clinic's statement was "a vitriolic, defamatory, and baseless press release."
Miller not only explained Joyner is remaining an employee at Mayo, "he hopes his lawsuit will promote positive change at Mayo, restoring trust in an institution where he has worked for 36 years of his distinguished career."
Besides unspecified damages, the case seeks an order that Mayo follow its own Academic Freedom Policy, its Anti-Retaliation policy, and its Appeal Procedure.
Joyner was suspended without pay for a week by administrators, citing his “use of idiomatic language” and comments he made in a June 2022 New York Times article as justification for the disciplinary actions, based on a March 5 disciplinary letter.
The school also insisted he obtain permission to speak to media.
The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression took up Joyner's case and sent two letters to the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science on his behalf.
He pointed out the science of the difference between men and women, regarding athletics.
"You see the divergence immediately as the testosterone surges into the boys," he said. "There are dramatic differences in performances."
His comments referenced college swimmer Lia Thomas, a male who had only lackluster performance as a man, but later competed as a woman and won medals.
"Lia Thomas is the manifestation of the scientific evidence," Dr. Ross Tucker, a sports physiologist who consults on world athletics, has confirmed. "The reduction in testosterone did not remove her biological advantage."