Appellate court reverses a Lubbock case involving Texas Tech fre - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Appellate court reverses a Lubbock case involving Texas Tech free speech

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reverses district court's decision to dismiss case involving Texas Tech University. United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reverses district court's decision to dismiss case involving Texas Tech University.
LUBBOCK COUNTY, TX (KCBD) -

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has reversed a district court’s decision involving the Texas Tech University System.

Rawls College of Business professor James Wetherbe and his attorney, Fernando Bustos, filed a lawsuit against Texas Tech University and former Dean of the Rawls College of Business Administration Lance Nail.

Wetherbe claims the university and Nail violated his First Amendment rights by retaliating against him, due to his criticism of tenure in higher education. Wetherbe has published articles on this topic in the Harvard Business Review and the Wall Street Journal.

Bustos said Wetherbe has been an outspoken critic of tenure for the last 20 years, and faced retaliation at the university because of his beliefs.

Bustos said Nail took away income and a research grants from Wetherbe.

Bustos said Best Buy awarded Wetherbe a research grant, but Nail took the last $50,000 of that grant and gave the money back to the company.

Bustos believes this was an example of  retaliation for Wetherbe’s criticism of tenure.

Tech requested the case be dismissed, arguing that Wetherbe’s speech criticizing tenure should not be afforded First Amendment protection. A Lubbock federal trial court granted Tech’s motion to dismiss the case.

Bustos and Wetherbe took their case to the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New Orleans. Both argued Wetherbe was writing on a topic of public concern, and was not just arguing about his job conditions.

“All three judges ruled that Dr. Wetherbe’s speech was in fact protected under the First Amendment and retaliation shouldn’t have occurred because of his speech,” Bustos said.

Normally, Senior U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings would have heard this case, but he recused himself. Senior U.S. District Judge Terry Means served as the visiting judge.

Bustos said they are now preparing to take this case to trial.

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