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Former University Admin Loses Lawsuit Appeal Against School
Crystal Dixon, a university administrator who was fired for authoring a newspaper editorial that said homosexuality is a choice, lost her appeal in the retaliation lawsuit filed against the school, according to The National Law Journal.
The ruling was issued on December 17 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, backing the ruling of a lower court that dismissed her lawsuit that she filed against the University of Toledo. Dixon was employed at the school as the vice president for human resources until her termination in 2008.
In the ruling by the appeals panel, her unlawful retaliation for exercising her constitutional rights did not succeed because the editorial she wrote defeated the civil rights policies she was responsible for promoting, creating and enforcing at the public school.
“Dixon’s public statement implying that LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] individuals should not be compared with and afforded the same protections as African Americans directly contradicts several such substantive policies instituted by the University,” wrote Judge Karen Moore.
The lawyer for Dixon is Robert Muise, who said that they will file an en banc rehearing and if that does not succeed then they will appeal for a review by the United States Supreme Court. Muise said that the reasoning offered by the court “erodes First Amendment freedoms.”
Dixon was placed on administrative leave just three days after her editorial was published. There was an administrative hearing in May of 2008. At the hearing she claimed that she wrote the editorial as a private citizen. She was fired from the university after the hearing. In the termination letter from the school, it was written that her position was “in direct contradiction to university policies and procedures as well as the core values” of the university.
A civil rights claim was filed by Dixon in December of 2008 under §1983 of the U.S. Code. In the claim she said that her First and Fourth Amendment rights were violated by the school and a handful of its administrators. Summary judgment to the defendants was granted by U.S. District Judge David Katz, who then dismissed the case in February.
The ruling from the court noted that the interest in promoting civil rights policies for students and employees at the school were far more important than the free speech rights of Dixon. The reason for this is that she is an employee whose job entailed implementing and enforcing the school’s policies.
“[T]he implication is clear: Dixon does not think LGBT students and employees of the university are entitled to civil-rights protections, even though the university, in part through the human resources department, expressly provides them,” the court found.