Astiz v. Canisius College, No. CA 23-00928 (N.Y. Sup Ct.—4th App. Div. 2024)

On March 7, 2024, the AAUP filed an amicus brief in the Fourth Judicial Department, Appellate Division, of the New York Supreme Court, in support of four tenured professors at Canisius College who were terminated due to their college’s purported financial difficulties.

Wortis v. Trustees of Tufts College, No. SJC-13472 (Mass. 2023)

In response to a request for amicus briefs from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the AAUP submitted an amicus brief explaining how Tufts University violated the principle of tenure, and its guarantees of academic freedom and economic security, when it imposed a draconian compensation plan on medical school faculty.

Vergara v. California, 246 Cal. App. 4th 619, 209 Cal. Rptr. 3d 532 (Cal. App. 2d Dist., May 3, 2016)

In this case, the Court of Appeal of California issued a decision overturning a ruling by a California state court judge that found that California statutes providing tenure protections to K–12 teachers violated the equal protection provisions of the California constitution. The case arose from a challenge, funded by anti-union organizations, to five California statutes that provide primary and secondary school teachers a two-year probationary period, stipulate procedural protections for non-probationary teachers facing termination, and emphasize teacher seniority in reductions of force. The AAUP submitted an amicus brief which argued that the challenged statutes help protect teachers from retaliation, help keep good teachers in the classroom by promoting teacher longevity and discouraging teacher turnover, and allow teachers to act in students’ interests in presenting curricular material and advocating for students within the school system. The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s decision, holding that the statutes themselves did not create equal protection violations, so they are not unconstitutional.

Kant v. Lexington Theological Seminary, No. 2912-SC-000502-DG, 2014 Ky. LEXIS 160 (Ky. April 17, 2014).

The Kentucky Supreme Court recently issued two decisions strongly affirming the rights of tenured faculty members at religious institutions and echoing arguments made by AAUP in an amicus brief filed with the court.  In two companion cases the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that religious institutions are generally bound by tenure contracts, including faculty handbooks, and that faculty members may sue if these contracts are breached, even in some instances in which the faculty member is a minister.

Branham v. Thomas M. Cooley Law School, 689 F.3d 558 (6th Cir. 2012).

Tenured law professor Lynn Branham was terminated from Thomas M. Cooley School of Law (“Cooley”) and subsequently sued the law school in federal court on claims of violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Michigan Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and breach of contract.  

AAUP filed a motion and amicus brief in support of Branham’s petition which was authored by AAUP Committee A member Matt Finkin.

Edwin Otero-Burgos v. Inter-American University, 558 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 2009)

Professor Otero-Burgos was dismissed in 2002 from Inter-American University, a private institution in Puerto Rico, in what he believed was a violation of his academic freedom.

Saxe v. Board of Trustees of Metropolitan State College of Denver, 179 P.3d 67 (Colo. Ct. App. 2007)

In 2003, the Board of Trustees at Metropolitan State College of Denver attempted to adopt a new faculty handbook that unilaterally modify certain tenure provisions, potentially “eviscerating the meaning of tenure in the academic community.”