A tenured English professor at the University of Texas at Brownsville has filed a lawsuit alleging that she was wrongfully terminated. Professor Susan Mills filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
According to the lawsuit, Mills began working for the university in 1992 and became a tenured professor in August 2010. When the university separated from Texas Southmost College, university officials claimed that the split required faculty cutbacks, and Mills and 87 other faculty members received notice that their positions would be terminated. However, Mills alleges that the university actually sought to hire instructors, including in the English department, at the same time her employment was being terminated.
Mills is seeking a court order for her position to be reinstated. The lawsuit names the university itself and three university officials, including the university’s President Juliet Garcia, as defendants.
Mills alleges in the lawsuit that a Department Review Committee recommended to Garcia that four out of 21 faculty members’ positions be terminated, but that one of the committee members submitted false information indicating that another professor was above Mills in the university’s hierarchy. Mills claims that Garcia relied on this information in terminating her employment. According to the lawsuit, Mills appealed her termination to a university Hearing Committee, which unanimously recommended that the decision to terminate her employment be reversed. However, Garcia ignored this recommendation.
The lawsuit cites the free speech clause of the First Amendment and the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment as “protections for the academic community.” A request for a temporary restraining order preventing Mills’ termination was denied.