A former adjunct professor recently filed a lawsuit against Essex County College, claiming that her employment ended wrongfully after she appeared on national television defending the Black Lives Matter movement. The professor further claims that the college not only wrongfully terminated her for expressing her views, it also violated her protections under the New Jersey Civil Rights Act in the process.
The college terminated the professor shortly after she appeared on a conservative political talk show, espousing her personal views and defending a Memorial Day celebration that only allowed black individuals to attend. While the segment did result in expected backlash on social media, the college itself only received one complaint. Still, according to civil rights watchdog group Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, even numerous complaints should not justify firing a teacher for espousing personal views outside of his or her scope of employment.
The professor notes that she did not at any time during the interview identify as an employee of the school, and that she has the right to express her views about social concerns in the public space. For many individuals who work in public institutions, this firing — along with other similar firings in recent years — may place implied restraints on their constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms of speech.
If you believe that your employer unjustly terminated you for any reason, including for exercising your rights to free speech, you should carefully consider the legal options you have. You may have grounds to build a strong legal claim to keep your rights secure using the strength of the law.
Source: northjersey.com, “Professor who was fired after defending Black Lives Matter on Fox News sues NJ college,” April 18, 2018