After Denying Promotion to Conservative Prof, UNC Must Pay His $700K Legal Tab

June 18, 2014 - 3:46 PM

Prof. Mike Adams

UNC-Wilmington Prof. Mike Adams (Mike Adams/Facebook)

(CNSNews.com) -- A criminology professor who successfully sued the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW) for denying him a promotion because of his conservative and Christian views has been awarded over $700,000 in legal fees.

Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Malcolm Howard ruled that UNCW must pay Prof. Mike Adams' attorneys' fees after a jury concluded in March that the university had unfairly discriminated against him.

But since UNCW is a state university, North Carolina taxpayers will have to foot the bill.

“It’s time for the university to feel some of the financial pinch that its choices have created,” Alliance Defending Freedom litigation staff counsel Travis Barham, who represented Adams, told CNSNews.com.

“I am sorry that the taxpayers of North Carolina could end up being on the hook for this. That is sad, but that’s where the taxpayers of North Carolina should be standing up and demanding accountability from their state government officials and demanding that UNC-Wilmington and the UNC system at large mend its ways and stop wasting taxpayer money in the way that they have by defending grossly illegal actions,” Barham added.

The university has filed an appeal of the verdict that it unfairly retaliated against Adams because of his conservative speech. It is unclear whether it will also appeal the legal fees ruling, which it called "excessive" in a statement to CNSNews.com.

Adams began teaching sociology and criminology at UNCW in 1993 and was given tenure in 1998 after his promotion to associate professor.

In 2006, he was denied a promotion to full professor despite an impressive record of achievement, including being named Faculty Member of the Year twice in his first seven years at UNCW, according to Barham.

An atheist and a liberal when he was first hired as a faculty member at UNCW, Adams converted to Christianity in 2000 and became a conservative a few years after he began teaching there.

He has been a vocal critic of the diversity movement in higher education and lectured in favor of First Amendment rights on college campuses. In doing so, he gained national recognition, appearing on TV shows like Hannity, The O’Reilly Factor, and Glenn Beck.

In March, a jury ruled that Adams’ outspokenness about his conservative and Christian beliefs, particularly his columns on townhall.com, had been a “substantial or motivating factor” in the university’s decision to deny him promotion.

The university was subsequently ordered to promote him to full professor and give him over $50,000 in back pay.