‘Politically inconvenient:’ UCF professor files lawsuit against university officials over 2021 termination

Complaint accuses officials of investigating professor over his political views

Dr. Charles Negy

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A professor at the University of Central Florida is now suing university officials following his termination in 2021 over claims of misconduct.

In June 2020, Dr. Charles Negy, an associate professor of psychology at UCF, came under fire from students at UCF after he shared an opinion editorial post from a blog called Taki’s Magazine.

“This article is spot on (will infuriate folks). Black privilege is real: Besides affirm. action, special scholarships and other set asides, being shielded from legitimate criticism is a privilege,” he posted in a now-deleted tweet.

Students pushed for Negy to be fired over his comments, and university officials later launched an investigation regarding alleged misconduct in the classroom.

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However, in a complaint filed on Wednesday, Negy said that the investigation was brought about because his viewpoints differed from the university’s.

“After Charles Negy posted several tweets to his personal Twitter account expressing his views that, contrary to the ascendant orthodoxy on campus, Blacks are not systemically oppressed in the United States, he became the target of a Twitter mob that demanded he be fired,” the complaint says.

According to the complaint, UCF administrators were forbidden from firing Negy on the basis of his tweets, so they instead asked people to come forward with complaints against Negy regarding discrimination and harassment.

“Negy is a minority, being both gay and Hispanic, and in fact was identified by UCF in 1998 as a ‘Diversity Enhancement Hire,’” the complaint reads. “However, Negy holds opinions that do not align with the way the way minority individuals are expected to think by those in power at America’s colleges and universities, including UCF.”

The months-long investigation involved an 9-hour-long “interrogation” of Negy, during which a UCF administrator presented hundreds of allegations against Negy that she had previously refused to give him notice of, despite his previous requests, the complaint shows.

“(They) took advantage of the Twitter scandal and ordered a massive investigation into my entire 22-year career, hoping to cobble together as many things as possible to try to justify firing me,” Negy told News 6.

The complaint adds that some of the complaints “bordered on the absurd” and was just a pretext to fire Negy, who’d become “politically inconvenient” to UCF.

In January 2021, Negy was officially fired after university officials claimed he failed to report a student’s sexual assault by one of his teaching assistants in 2014.

Negy said that two students told him the teaching assistant implied he wanted a romantic relationship with them. He said he asked the students whether they were touched, and they said no.

“If a student tells me someone is talking romantically to them, and they tell me they didn’t touch them, I’m not obligated to report that,” Dr. Negy said.

While Negy, who was tenured faculty, would normally have been entitled to six months’ notice of termination, UCF officials instead provided him with only 12 days’ notice due to claims that his continued presence might “jeopardize the safety or welfare of... students,” the complaint explains.

Court records show that Negy and his brother were left homeless and forced to move in with a relative due to the termination.

“The immediate loss of income caused by the denial of six months’ notice forced Negy to rapidly sell his home at significantly below market value. This was particularly difficult because Negy had just assumed responsibility for the care of his physically and mentally disabled brother following the death of their last parent,” the complaint reads. “At the time of Negy’s termination, his brother had just moved from Houston to Orlando to live with Negy.”

The complaint also states that Negy suffered from mental health issues as a result, being diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder later that year.

However, in May 2022, an arbitrator ruled against UCF and reinstated Negy, saying that the university hadn’t been justified in deeming Negy a “safety risk.”

The complaint accuses UCF administrators involved in Negy’s termination of acting maliciously and in bad faith during the investigation into Negy’s career, which would violate Florida law.

News 6 reached out to Negy, who provided the following statement:

“The UCF Administration has been imposing the divisive and racist ideology called “diversity/equity & inclusion” on campus endeavors since they hired the current President (Alexander Cartwright), who openly declared when he was hired that his #1 mission was to make UCF the “national model” for diversity/equity & inclusion.

I openly oppose that toxic ideology and universities have no right to be promoting or imposing any ideology on anyone.

UCF thought they could dig deep into my entire 22 year career to find anything they could cobble together to justify firing me, knowing they could not fire me for my protected speech on Twitter. An Arbitrator saw through their lies and ordered them to reinstate me. Now, I’m suing them in Federal Court for all the irreparable damages they did to me.”

Dr. Charles Negy

According to the complaint, Negy is seeking an injunction against UCF officials to prohibit them from retaliating against Negy’s for his protected speech going forward. In addition, the lawsuit seeks monetary damages.

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About the Author:

Anthony, a graduate of the University of Florida, joined ClickOrlando.com in April 2022.