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Discussion of the Mohammed Cartoons Not "Speech Involv[ing] Matters of Public Interest or Concern"?
by Eugene Volokh
Today's Kentucky Court of Appeals decision in Mendez v. Univ. of Kentucky Bd. of Trustees contained an odd bit of analysis that I thought I'd mention. Here's the fact pattern:
The precipitating event leading up to the cessation of [Fullmer] Mendez's employment at the College of Health Sciences occurred on March 27, 2006. One morning he was assigned to work on the computer of Dr. Susan Effgen, a professor at the College. She had experienced repeated problems with her computer. After looking at the computer, Mendez decided that he could not fix it until the next day. He informed her and went to lunch. When he returned from lunch, [Bambang] Sutardjo, as his supervisor, asked about the repair of the computer. After Mendez told him that the computer would not be fixed until the next day, Sutardjo told him to finish the work on the computer now because Mendez did not have the authority to determine turnaround time. Mendez replied that he was not trying to create new policy. Then, Sutardjo said he did not want Mendez to work in the department any longer.
But Mendez proffers a different reason for his dismissal. He maintains that the reason for his termination was not based on his failure to work on Effgen's computer in a timely fashion, but rather, his termination resulted from a disagreement with Sutardjo, which Mendez believes was the cause of his termination. The parties' religious backgrounds are as follows: Mendez was born and raised Catholic, and Sutardjo was a member of the Islamic religion. Mendez knew Sutardjo's religion because at one time he had been invited to Sutardjo's home for dinner at the conclusion of Ramadan. Sutardjo intimated that while he was not sure of Mendez's religious beliefs, he thought that he was Christian or Catholic.
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