Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) May 24, 2013 – A wrongful termination lawsuit has been filed by a former professor at the University of Texas at Brownsville (UTB).
The professor, Susan Mills, alleges that her position was wrongfully terminated as part of broader staff reductions. Mills, a tenured English professor, was given notice approximately one year ago that her position would be cut, along with 87 other members of the faculty.
The university had claimed that its separation from Texas Southmost College created a need to eliminate positions. However, Mills alleges that the university began hiring instructors in her department and others at the same time that it sought to eliminate Mills and other professors.
“In this case, the plaintiff is seeking injunctive relief, namely the reinstatement of her faculty position,” said Gregory D. Jordan, an Austin employment attorney familiar with the case. “Tenured positions provide protections that many employees do not have,” continued the Austin employment lawyer. “If the University violated Mills’ protected rights, she could also be entitled to recover significant pay.”
The lawsuit names the university itself and three university officials as defendants. The defendants include President Juliet Garcia, Provost Alan Artibise and then-Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Daniel Heimmermann.
Mills began working for the university in 1992 and became a tenured professor in August 2010, according to the lawsuit. Mills alleges that a Department Review Committee was charged with recommending four faculty members out of 21 for termination. The lawsuit claims that one of the committee members submitted false information that classified another professor as higher than Mills in the university hierarchy.
Mills alleges that Juliet Garcia, the University President, relied on this incorrect information in making the decision to terminate her position. Mills further alleges that she appealed her termination to a university Hearing Committee, which unanimously recommended accepting her appeal. Garcia ignored this advice and imposed the termination, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit cites the free speech clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment as “protections for the academic community” and asserts that UTB officials were acting under the color of state law when they terminated Mills’ employment.
On April 23, U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen denied the plaintiff’s request for a temporary restraining order preventing her termination, scheduled for May 31.
The Law Offices of Gregory D. Jordan has handled many business and employment disputes involving non-compete agreements, unfair competition, confidentiality agreements and breaches of contract. To learn more visit, http://www.theaustintriallawyer.com.
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