“I hope it sends a message to UNT and universities across the country. Maybe it will be a wake-up call, but I think it will take a lot more of these incidents because this is all too common.”
Earlier this year, a math professor named Dr. Nathaniel Hiers was fired by the University of North Texas after leaving a comment on a chalkboard that made fun of microaggressions.
Alliance Defending Freedom reports:
Texas university pays $165K to professor fired for writing a joke in the teachers’ lounge criticizing microaggressions
In a victory for free speech on public university campuses, the University of North Texas has agreed to pay $165,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees for violating a math professor’s First Amendment rights when it fired him for writing a joke criticizing microaggressions on a chalkboard in the teachers’ lounge.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent Nathaniel Hiers in his lawsuit against the university. After discovering flyers in the mathematics department’s faculty lounge about “microaggressions,” Hiers jokingly wrote on the chalkboard, “Please don’t leave garbage lying around,” with an arrow pointing to the flyers. The following week, the head of the math department fired Hiers by cancelling his contract to teach in the spring, admitting that he fired Hiers because he criticized the flyers and didn’t express “honest regret” about his actions.
“The First Amendment guarantees Dr. Hiers—and every other American—the right to express his viewpoint without government punishment,” said ADF Legal Counsel Michael Ross. “We’re pleased to see this case settled favorably not only for Dr. Hiers but also to help protect freedom of speech for every student and teacher at public universities across the country.”…
“Public universities can’t fire a professor just because they disagree with the professor’s personal viewpoint,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom.
The Texan has more:
“It was a joke, but there are good points to be discussed and the university should have those conversations,” ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer told The Texan.
The settlement did not include any re-employment of Hiers by UNT. Hiers is teaching, but not at the university level, Langhofer said.
“This petty disagreement has impacted his career. It is competitive to get these positions and his track was cut off.”…
The settlement agreement did not include any requirements that UNT conduct training to prevent violations of the faculty members’ First Amendment rights, but Langhofer would love to see such training at UNT and around the country.
“I hope it sends a message to UNT and universities across the country. Maybe it will be a wake-up call, but I think it will take a lot more of these incidents because this is all too common.” Langhofer expressed.
“We hope this is the first step in the university restoring its role as a marketplace of ideas rather than an echo chamber for one viewpoint,” he added.
“The right to free speech is for everyone. We need as a society to continue to hold those in power accountable for upholding the First Amendment,” Langhofer emphasized.
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