CHICAGO (CN) – A professor’s criticism of his university was not protected free speech, because he was acting as an employee instead of a private citizen, the 7th Circuit ruled.
Kevin Renkin, an engineering professor at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee sued the university, claiming it retaliated against him for his criticism of its use of grant funds.
Renkin wrote to university officials, claiming that he did not have the proper lab space for his project, and that the university did not provide the matching funds it was required to under the grant proposal.
After Renkin complained a second time, the university canceled the project and returned the grant money.
“In order for a public employee to raise a successful claim,” Judge Manion wrote, “he must have spoken in his capacity as a private citizen and not as an employee.”