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University of North Texas Settles With Instructor for $165K

September 23, 2022

The University of North Texas settled for $165,000 with a former math instructor who sued it for First Amendment violations. The former instructor, Nathaniel Hiers, wrote on a faculty lounge chalkboard in 2019, “Please don’t leave your garbage lying around” and drew an arrow to a leftover informational brochure about microaggressions. Following this incident, Hiers says that his department chair asked him to apologize, and when Hiers wouldn’t, the chair rescinded classes he’d previously offered Hiers for the upcoming semester. A federal judge green-lit Hiers’s legal case in March.

Hiers’s lawyer, Michael Ross of the Alliance Defending Freedom, said in a statement, “The First Amendment guarantees Dr. Hiers—and every other American—the right to express his viewpoint without government punishment. We’re pleased to see this case settled favorably not only for Dr. Hiers but also to help protect freedom of speech for every student and teacher at public universities across the country.” The university said in a statement that its focus remains on “students who have chosen to invest their resources in pursuing an excellent education as part of our UNT family.”

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Colleen Flaherty

Colleen Flaherty, Reporter, covers faculty issues for Inside Higher Ed. Prior to joining the publication in 2012, Colleen was military editor at the Killeen Daily Herald, outside Fort Hood, Texas. Before that, she covered government and land use issues for the Greenwich Time and Hersam Acorn Newspapers in her home state of Connecticut. After graduating from McGill University in Montreal in 2005 with a degree in English literature, Colleen taught English and English as a second language in public schools in the Bronx, N.Y. She earned her M.S.Ed. from City University of New York Lehman College in 2008 as part of the New York City Teaching Fellows program. 

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