NC Court of Appeals Rejects Free Speech Retaliation Appeal

The North Carolina Court of Appeals published a decision in a free-speech retaliation case in Ginsberg v. Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina. The plaintiff, who worked at NC State University as a teaching assistant professor, contended that the University had violated her First Amendment free speech rights by punishing her in a hiring decision in retaliation for her protected speech. On November 9, 2007, the plaintiff was reprimand by professors for purportedly showing bias during her introductory statements on a film that was being presented on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Just weeks later, the plaintiff was de-listed as a first-tier candidate for an open tenure track position, and some of the professors who had reprimanded her were on the search committee. Nonetheless, affirming the trial court's grant of summary judgment, the Court concluded that the plaintiff had failed to present sufficient evidence of causation between her protected speech and the university's hiring decision. The Court held that she had not supported her claim “beyond mere speculation.”