“Any reasonable university official would have known that it was unconstitutional to discontinue [Hiers’s] employment because of his speech”
This is the feel-good story of the day. The judge’s reaction is priceless.
Campus Reform reports:
Legal victory for professor fired after criticizing ‘microaggressions’
A University of North Texas (UNT) professor was fired after making a joke at the expense of “microaggressions.” Now, a federal judge decided that this penalty violated his First Amendment rights.
Former UNT math professor Nathaniel Hiers discovered flyers warning about microaggressions left unattended on campus, prompting him to write on his classroom chalkboard “Please don’t leave garbage lying around” with an arrow pointing to the flyers.
Upon becoming aware of Hiers’ joke, the chair of the UNT math department, Ralf Schmidt, emailed the entire department with a photo of the chalkboard and a message stating, “Would the person who did this please stop being a coward and see me in the chair’s office immediately. Thank you.”
After refusing to apologize or take non-mandatory diversity training, Hiers was fired “without notice,” according to the Apr. 2020 complaint filed by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) on his behalf.
The school also revoked Hiers’ already-accepted offer of employment for the next semester.
In a Mar. 11 decision, Judge Sean D. Jordan stated that “Hiers has plausibly alleged that the university officials discontinued his employment — that is, punished him — because he did not express honest regret about his views and speech on microaggressions.”
“Precedent establishes that the government violates the First Amendment when it tries to compel public employees to affirm beliefs with which they disagree. Period,” the judge decided.
As a result of the Memorandum Opinion and Order, the lawsuit can continue, with the court denying the university’s motion to dismiss Hiers’ allegations of First Amendment retaliation. The court also denied qualified immunity to the UNT administrators involved.
“Any reasonable university official would have known that it was unconstitutional to discontinue [Hiers’s] employment because of his speech,” Judge Jordan said regarding the denial of qualified immunity.
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