Collin College in McKinney, Tex., has won a lawsuit filed by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression on behalf of a former professor who claimed the college violated his First Amendment rights.
Michael Phillips, who taught history, alleged that the college did not renew his teaching contract after he spoke out against the college’s pandemic protocols, encouraged students in his classes to wear masks despite a state law banning mask mandates and advocated for removal of local Confederate monuments.
Greg Greubel, an attorney for FIRE, said the organization is “deeply disappointed” by the verdict, according to The Dallas Morning News. Collin officials claimed victory and said in a news release that the jury’s decision provided “affirmation that the college’s policies are not unconstitutionally vague as alleged.”
Phillips’s lawsuit is one of several that former faculty members have brought against the college in recent years involving allegations of retaliation and stifling of free speech. Three other professors have also accused the college of forcing them out after criticizing its pandemic protocols. At least two of them reached settlements with the college. One of them, Suzanne Jones, had reached a settlement that included a provision to temporarily return to teaching at the college through 2025, but she is no longer employed there, according to Marisela Cadena-Smith, associate vice president of communications at Collin. (This paragraph was corrected to reflect that Jones no longer works at the college.)
Earlier this year, the American Association of University Professors issued a report condemning the college’s “egregious violations” of those faculty members’ academic freedom.