Former offensive line coach of University of Tennessee-Chattanooga (UTC), Chris Malone, is suing over wrongful termination. Malone was fired in January, following a tweet critical of Georgia politician Stacey Abrams.
“Congratulations to the state GA and Fat Albert @staceyabrams because you have truly shown America the true works of cheating in an election, again!!! Enjoy the buffet Big Girl! You earned it!!! Hope the money was good, still not governor!” Malone posted on Twitter in January.
The tweet was criticized, with critics including UTC officials, who described it as “hateful” and “appalling.”
On January 7, Malone was fired.
On April 27, he filed a lawsuit against UTC. In a statement sent to Reclaim The Net, his attorney, Doug Churdar, argued that, as a public university, UTC should respect the First Amendment.
“UTC is going to get acquainted with the First Amendment. As a public school, it cannot control what its employees say at social gatherings or on social media. It certainly cannot fire them for criticizing and mocking politicians,” Churdar said.
Churdar added that criticizing and insulting politicians is protected under the First Amendment free speech rights.
“Calling politicians liars and cheaters is a proud American tradition. Nobody’s got a problem with it until it’s ‘their’ politician. And fat jokes might be unkind, but they aren’t uncommon. Just ask Chris Christie and Donald Trump.”
Examples of fat jokes targeting President Donald Trump and former Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie are provided in the lawsuit.
Malone claims that the media has depicted him in the wrong way. For instance, some headlines described his tweet as racist, yet his tweet did not mention Abrams’ race.
“I’ve coached more than 20 years, including at an HBCU school. I’m a good coach and get along with everyone. I criticize the wrong politician, and suddenly I’m racist? That’s completely false and a very tired cliché, I might add,” he said.
His lawyer argues that the tweet should not end his 20-year career.
“It’s search and destroy out there. There’s no way a man should lose a 20- year career over a tweet that was up for 30 minutes,” Churdar said. “Most victims of cancel culture just walk away. Chris Malone won’t walk away.”
We obtained a copy of the lawsuit for you here.