Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Did Cybercast News make the case against Crystal Dixon

So the right-wing are slowly catching on to the Crystal Dixon story. And with their usual candor, they are spinning it to make Dixon look like a victim:

"She has been fired," said Brian Rooney, spokesman for the Thomas More Law Center, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based legal-defense group which is representing Dixon.

Rooney told Cybercast News Service that the university had offered Dixon "another position, in a different part of the university, not in human resources" because she had argued in her editorial that sexual orientation is not an immutable characteristic like race or sex and should not be afforded the same protection under civil rights laws.

The University said the following:

According to a statement from UT spokesman Lawrence J. Burns, the university determined that there was “just cause” to fire Dixon.

“The public position Ms. Dixon took in the Toledo Free Press is in direct contradiction to University policies and procedures, as well as the institutional core values as defined in our strategic plan, and called into question her continued ability to lead a critical function within the administration as personnel actions or decisions taken in her capacity as associate vice president for human resources could be challenged or placed at risk,” Burn said in the statement.

The article also said Dixon was not initially fired. She was offered a demotion and a pay cut, both of which she refused.

So it can be interpreted that the University found that Ms. Dixon's personal beliefs could interfere with her job duties.


However, there is another side to the story.

The question may come down to that of policy, not the context of Dixon’s statements.

I have read the claim on several sites that Dixon indicated that she was speaking for herself and did not involve the University.

This is may not be true. Nowhere in her column did Dixon indicate that she was solely giving her opinion. She even indentifies herself as an employee of the university.

Even though they probably didn’t mean to, her lawyers indicate this very point:

Attorneys with the Thomas More Law Center, meanwhile, point out that Dixon, an African-American woman and evangelical Christian, was not speaking on behalf of the university, but -- as Dixon herself phrased it in the column -- "as a Black woman who happens to be an alumnus of the University of Toledo's Graduate School, an employee and a business owner."

By that statement, it can be construed that she was in fact speaking on behalf of the University.

It all comes down to how this will interpreted.

And what about when she said the following:

The reference to the alleged benefits disparity at the University of Toledo was rather misleading. When the University of Toledo and former Medical University of Ohio merged, both entities had multiple contracts for different benefit plans at substantially different employee cost sharing levels. To suggest that homosexual employees on one campus are being denied benefits avoids the fact that ALL employees across the two campuses regardless of their sexual orientation, have different benefit plans. The university is working diligently to address this issue in a reasonable and cost-efficient manner, for all employees, not just one segment.

Was this private information? If so, who gave her clearance to make it public?

We all have been ruminating on the context of Dixon’s words. Some of us have canonized her as a martyr of political correctness and others have vilified her as intolerant.

I myself have been very disturbed by yet another example of an African-American self-righteous wannabe attacking the lgbt community.

But ultimately, the entire thing could come down to that of policy.

Does an employee have a right to involve their employer (even indirectly) in personal opinions?

Does free speech and religion cover this sort of thing?

Does the University's policy address this issue?

Can an employee not agree with the University's core mission but still fulfill the job duties that would accomplish this core mission?

All very interesting questions. I'm very curious to see how this will play out.

UPDATE - Matt Barber weighs in

Matt Barber from Concerned Women for America weighs in the situation with his usual brand of hysteria:

Don’t let this egregious and discriminatory action by the University of Toledo be ignored. Please contact University of Toledo President Lloyd Jacobs and respectfully request that he immediately reinstate Crystal Dixon and issue a public apology to her, the African-American community and to Christians worldwide.

Apologize to Christians worldwide? Apparently Barber takes too much on himself. I am sure that many Christians worldwide do not agree with Dixon's statements.

And speaking of apologies, if Barber wants to play that game, then he should apologize to us lgbts of color for every lie he has told on the lgbt community.

Or do LGBTs of color exist in his world?


T-Zero said...

Most employers have written policies regarding employee conduct both when on and off the job. There are several existing precedents of employers terminating employees for "cause". For example, teachers posting info about their private lives on the internet.

The University of Toledo states in their employee policies:

V-7-8 Personnel: Employee Conduct and Disciplinary Actions

Policy: The University shall establish such rules of conduct and performance for University staff employees provided that such standards shall not abridge the employees' rights established under law.

Employee Conduct
1. The Vice President for Administrative Affairs is responsible for the implementation of this directive.

2. General rules of conduct and policies have been established to help achieve this objective. Employees should recognize that "failure of good behavior" may be grounds for disciplinary action. 3. Failure of good behavior includes but is not limited to discourtesy to the public, absenteeism, tardiness, insubordination, inappropriate attire, and dishonesty....

I would think Dixon couldn't have been more discourteous to either university staff or it's gay students.

I think, too, that an argument that her First Amendment rights were violated would be a specious line of argument.

If Ms. Dixon found she could not fulfill the responsibilities of insuring equality and diversity at the university as her employment with the university dictated, then she best served herself by tendering her resignation.

If the university found that Ms. Dixon was unable to fulfill the university's mandate to insure equality and diversity at the university, then the university was obligated to terminate her employment for her inability to fulfill her job responsibilities.

In addition, if an attempt was made and offered to maintain her employment but in a more suitable job position, as you mentioned, that would further hurt any claim on her part of "wrongful" termination.

In either event, Ms. Dixon was and is free to continue to exercise her First Amendment rights, keeping in mind that the exercise of such a right is not without consequence.

In this instance, the consequence being that her employer lost faith and confidence in her ability to fulfill the universities diversity and equality mandates as outlined as a responsibility of her position in HR.

S. said...

That's probably one the most hilarious statements Barber has ever made.

Barber, and those like him, aren't Christians. They are simply lunatics with a Wal-Mart bible in hand. There's a huge difference between those two.

So I don't know why he'd ask for an apology to Christians.

BlackTsunami said...

It's interesting how certain blogs are trying to spin the case in her favor.

They claim that she is speaking just her own opinion, omitting that her words brought the university into the argument.

Or they are saying "she just identified herself as an employee, she did not say she was working for the university."

an employee of what? the argumenht is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I guess my question is this, were the situation 180 degress different. I.E. She was let go for being openly gay and stating that the she happened to work for... Would you say they had a right to fire her?

If not, the only word to describe you is hypocrite. The Constitution is to be applied evenly, with NO group more deserving than any other.

Those that want to slant individual rights more toward one group of people than another are just as bad as those than want to take them from everyone.

BlackTsunami said...

Regardless if she were gay or not, the same ending should result.

By the way, don't you think it's a good idea to allow me to answer your question BEFORE you brand me as a hypocrite? LOL