Former UVa Employee Termination Lawsuit

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

September 6, 2006

Almost a year ago Dena bowers, who is an NAACP member, sent an email to another member using her work email and University of Virginia employee title, which the University said is a misuse of email so they fired her.

Bowers and her supporters feel she was really fired for the information she wrote in the email. She discussed the negatives of the school's charter, which is something the University is desperate to get.

"For someone to be able to privately talk about one of the most important issues around right now by the biggest employer, then we are going to have a big cutback on our first amendment rights. I'm confident in this judge," said Deborah Wyatt, Dena Bower's Attorney.

In court, Bowers' attorney tried to prove her 1st Amendment rights were violated. But the defense told the judge Bowers should not have any free speech rights at all because of the circumstances. They said once the email was sent it was then forwarded to many NAACP members that possibly thought the message came directly from the University.

"Communication should be considered to be an official communication and under those circumstances the University would have the right to take the action it did without violating the first amendment," said Richard Kast, the University's defense attorney.

The judge is expected to decide in a few weeks if there is just cause for the case to continue of be dismissed. The defense attorney has already filed a motion to dismiss the case.

Bowers is asking for $1 million in damages. The University denies the allegations.

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