An employer punished a university professor for not using the preferred pronouns used by students. A lawsuit was filed in his favor to preserve his First Amendment rights.
Shawnee State University fired Dr. Nicholas Meriwether after he refused to call a female student with male descriptions. However, the parties reached an initial compromise. According to the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), who filed the suit on Meriwether’s behalf, the philosophy professor agreed to refer to the student by first or last name, however the university later backed out of the agreement, threatening further actions.
Shawnee State University officials punished a philosophy professor, Dr. Nicholas Meriwether, because he declined a male student’s demand to be referred to as a woman with feminine titles and pronouns (“Miss,” “she,” etc.) Although Dr. Meriwether offered to use the student’s preferred first or last name instead. The University initially accepted the compromise. However, it reversed its decision days later. Ultimately, it punished him by putting a written warning in his personnel file and threatened “further corrective actions” unless he spoke contrary to his own philosophical and Christian convictions.
Initial dismissal of the case by a federal court was not possible. However, the ADF filed an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals 6th Circuit. After weaving its way through the legal process, the ADF has announced that Meriwether has made a “favorable settlement” with the university. Shawnee State University will compensate Meriwether with $400,000 and legal fees.
In a statement quoting the previous ruling form the 6th Circuit, the ADF says that institutions like universities cannot be allowed to compel “ideological conformity.”
The 6th Circuit explained that if “professors lacked free-speech protections when teaching, a university would wield alarming power to compel ideological conformity. A university president could require a pacifist to declare that war is just, a civil rights icon to condemn the Freedom Riders, a believer to deny the existence of God, or a Soviet émigré to address his students as ‘comrades.’ That cannot be.”
In April 2022, Dr. Meriwether’s case concluded with a favorable settlement, in which the university agreed to pay $400,000 in damages and attorney’s fees, rescind the written warning it issued in June 2018, and affirm his right to address students consistent with his beliefs.
This is the best way to go. Conservatives as well as those to the right have tried for too long to just live and let die. This street can only be accessed if it goes both ways. It doesn’t. It doesn’t.