A federal judge has affirmed a jury award to a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Mike Adams claimed university administrators praised him when he was an atheist, but black-balled him after he became a Christian.
Adams claimed the university denied his promotion to full professor in 2007 because of his conservative views. The professor regularly expressed his views on political issues in a newspaper column. A seven-year legal battle culminated in a jury award of $50,000 in back pay and a requirement for the university to promote Adams to a full professorship.
University lawyers had appealed the verdict, claiming the facts did not support it. The federal judge, however, disagreed, finding “there was sufficient evidence as a matter of law presented to the jury to find for plaintiff” and that the university’s evaluation process as being “chock-full of deception, discrimination, and disorder.”
Note: Keep employee evaluations bias-free. To do so, make sure evaluations focus on the employee’s job performance, as measured against objective standards.
In this case, it appears the professor was being punished for expressing political and religious views outside the classroom. The jury and the judge concluded that was irrelevant to his ability to teach criminology.