Thursday, December 6, 2012

Suit over Firing Deaf Prof

More than a year ago we told you about the ASL professor who was fired because of classroom comments (you can read that story here). Peter Quint told his class about a time in Pakistan when a gun was pointed at his head by a tribesman. The deaf professor said he was able to deal with the dangerous situation by his method of communicating with the man. The story was a way to explain to the students why he requires them to use ASL in the class to ensure everyone is included in the conversation. Later, during the same class, after several students repeatedly ignored his request to not use spoken English, Quint grew frustrated and told one of the students, "Do you want me to take a gun out and shoot you in the head so you understand what I am talking about? I had to practice being respectful in Pakistan otherwise I would have been shot. Can you practice the same respect here?" Other students in the class at the time later told the school newspaper that they understood Quint was not saying he was "actually going to shoot anyone.” His comment was clearly a reference to the story he had just told. Quint even apologized to the class. And a video tape of the class backs up Quint's story. But that didn't stop a student from filing a complaint, which led to Quint's dismissal. Now, a judge is considering a motion to dismiss the discrimination lawsuit Quint filed against the University of Oregon. Quint says the disruptive students took advantage of his inability to hear the remarks, creating a hostile work environment and then violated his free speech rights by firing him. The school's attorneys say it doesn't matter if Quint was mistreated because they school administrators can't be sued because they are state employees and you can't sue the government. The judge in the case hasn't said when he will rule on the move to dismiss.

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