Tuesday, November 07, 2017

University's Anti-Harassment Policy Upheld Over Prof's Free Speech Claims

In Board of Trustees of Purdue University v. Eisenstein, (IN App., Oct. 30, 2017), and Indiana Court of Appeals held that a trial court should have dismissed a lawsuit brought by an associate professor at Purdue University Calumet against the university, its board of trustees and several of its faculty members.  Associate Professor Maurice Eisenstein was accused by several students and faculty of making anti-Muslim and anti-Black statements in his Introduction to Judaism class and in Facebook postings.  A number of students and faculty, as well as the Muslim Student Association, filed harassment complaints against Eisenstein.  Subsequently Eisenstein made derogatory comments to two of the faculty who had complained, and they filed additional charges of retaliation.  The university ultimately upheld only the retaliation claims.  Eisenstein then sued claiming, among other things, that the university's retaliation policy is unconstitutionally vague and that his free speech rights were infringed. He also alleged breach of contract and other claims. In a 42-page opinion, the court rejected Eisenstein's claims on a number of grounds.  Inside Higher Ed reports on the decision.