Retaliation; Academic Freedom; Retaliation; First Amendment & Free Speech
Wetherbe v. Texas Tech University System (5th Cir. June 1, 2017)
Per curiam Opinion affirming the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s claims against the Texas Tech University System (TTU) and reversing and remanding for further proceedings on Plaintiff’s remaining claims against individual Defendants. In a previous suit, a business professor at TTU's Rawls College of Business alleged that various TTU administrators violated the First Amendment by refusing to consider him for more prestigious positions because he did not have tenure and expressed anti-tenure views. A year after that suit was resolved, Plaintiff again filed this suit, this time against TTU and the former Dean of the business school, claiming that recent adverse employment events were motivated by his first lawsuit and by his anti-tenure publications. The district court granted Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss on the grounds that Plaintiff’s speech did not involve a matter of public concern since “[t]enure is a benefit that owes its existence to, and is generally found only in the context of, government employment.” The court also found Plaintiff had failed to state a claim for relief based on his theory that Defendants retaliated against him for filing his first lawsuit. The Fifth Circuit affirmed.