A federal jury has ruled in favor of a UNC-Wilmington criminology professor who sued the university for denying him promotions because of his Christian faith.
Dr. Mike Adams said from the time of his hiring in 1993 he was praised and promoted, but that stopped when he converted from atheism to Christianity in 2000.
Adams said he was harassed and denied advancement even though he was more productive than his peers.
"Universities are supposed to be a marketplace of ideas, not a place where professors face retaliation for having a different view than the university officials," attorney Travis Barham, with the Alliance Defending Freedom, said.
The ADF said the university also refused to promote Adams because he expresses religious and political views different than the school's in his nationally sydicated opinion columns.
Last year, a federal court found enough evidence supporting his claim to warrant a trial.
"Disagreeing with an accomplished professor's religious and political views is no grounds for denying him a promotion. As the [U.S. Court of Appeals for] 4th Circuit affirmed, protecting academic freedom for university professors is critical, and opinion columns are among the purest examples of free speech that the First Amendment protects," Barham said.
Meanwhile, The American Center for Law and Justice, who represented Adams along with the ADF, called Thursday's verdict "an important victory for academic freedom and the First Amendment."
University officials, however, said they disagreed with the jury's finding and are considering appeal.