While Americans fume about the sidelining of Mozilla’s Brendan Eich, another conservative is getting some long-awaited payback. It took eight years, but Dr. Mike Adams, associate professor at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, finally won the promotion he deserved — thanks to a federal court’s intervention. Almost a month earlier, a jury had sided with Dr. Adams, agreeing that the university was retaliating against the criminology professor for his conservative views.
This week, a U.S. District judge followed up on that verdict, ordering UNCW to promote Adams and provide $50,000 in back pay in what many are calling a “landmark anti-discrimination case.” Eight years ago, the university’s sociology department turned down Adams’s application for promotion, despite a folio of awards, student recommendations, 125 speaking appearances, and 11 published peer-review articles. It was the first time, his attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom pointed out, that a professor with that many peer-reviewed pieces had ever been denied promotion at the Department level.
Unfortunately, Dr. Adams fell victim to UNCW’s radical political agenda after converting from atheism to Christianity in 2000. Since then, the administration’s open hostility to Adams’s work in conservative circles was impossible to ignore. Thank goodness Professor Adams had the last word. “The jury last month found that disagreeing with an accomplished professor’s religious and political views is no grounds for denying him a promotion,” said ADF’s Travis Barham. “To our knowledge, this is the first court to rule that a university unlawfully retaliated against a conservative professor for his views, award him back pay, and order the university to promote him to the position he was wrongfully denied.”
For now, the implications of the case can’t be overstated for conservatives in higher education, many of whom have been marginalized or overlooked for their beliefs. But, as the Fourth Circuit Court said of Adams’s complaint in 2011, “No individual loses his ability to speak as a private citizen by virtue of public employment.” And that includes the classroom.
Tony Perkins heads the Family Research Council. This article is excerpted from the Washington Update that he compiles for the FRC.
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