- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 1, 2015

URBANA, Ill. (AP) - Lawyers for a professor who contends he was wrongly denied a position at the University of Illinois argue that the school had a binding contract with him when it told him he wouldn’t get the job, according to a legal filing.

Attorneys for Steven Salaita argue that the university violated his right to free speech when it told him least year that it wouldn’t hire him over a series of sometimes-profane, anti-Israel Twitter messages. The filing Monday in federal court in Chicago was a response to the university’s effort to dismiss Salaita’s lawsuit against the university.

Salaita was offered a job in September 2013 to teach Native American studies starting the following August. For the next 11 months, “all the parties ever did was confirm their understanding that there was an agreement” for Salaita to go to work, Baher Azmy, legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights, told The News-Gazette in Champaign (https://bit.ly/1CNFNSg ). The center is handling part of Salaita’s legal representation.

University spokeswoman Robin Kaler said university officials were still reviewing the legal filing.

Salaita accepted the offer to come to the University of Illinois and quit his job at Virginia Tech.

But after his series of Twitter messages during the summer of 2014, the university told him it wasn’t hiring him. The university maintains that he wasn’t an employee since its Board of Trustees hadn’t yet approved his hire - a step required for all tenured positions.

A hearing on the university’s motion to dismiss the case is scheduled for late May.

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Information from: The News-Gazette, https://www.news-gazette.com

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