Mar 24, 2014 09:35 AM EDT
UNC Professor Wins Lawsuit against School over Denial of Promotion
A federal jury has ruled in favor of Mike Adams, an associate criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Thursday. Adams filed a lawsuit 2007 against the school for denying him a promotion to full professor 2006 because of his religious views.
The university hired Adams, a former atheist, 1993 as an assistant professor, and promoted him to associate professor 1998. His application for promotion to full professor was frequently being ignored when he converted to Christianity 2000 that changed his political and social views.
Last year, Adams, a Townhall columnist, said that that despite maintaining a good record in teaching, research and service, he was not promoted because of the views he expressed in his opinion columns. He described the promotion process as being "replete with procedural irregularities and with direct criticism of [his] columns and [his] beliefs," Townhall reports.
The American Center for Law & Justice, who represented Adams along with Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Travis Barham, said that university officials rejected his application on the basis of a fabricated promotion standard and by using fake and deceptive information about his academic record among others, Townhall reports.
"[N]o individual loses his ability to speak as a private citizen by virtue of public employment," the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit wrote in 2011. "Adams' columns addressed topics such as academic freedom, civil rights, campus culture, sex, feminism, abortion, homosexuality, religion, and morality. Such topics plainly touched on issues of public, rather than private, concern."
In a statement, Barham said that the team is thankful to jury. With the verdict, the jury reaffirmed the fundamental principle that universities are a place where ideas are shared and exchanged and not a place, where professors face retaliation for possessing a different view than school officials.
"The jury saw what we have long known to be true about the wrong done to Dr. Adams," said Senior Legal Counsel David Hacker. "The verdict is a powerful message for academic freedom and free speech at America's public universities."
The university officials are unhappy with the verdict. They claimed that faculty member's political or religious beliefs are not taken into consideration while they are being considered for promotion. The school is planning to appeal the verdict.
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