CHARLESTON – An administrative law judge has denied the grievance of a former teacher who was fired last year after making anti-Muslim tweets.
West Virginia Public Employees Grievance Board Administrative Law Judge William B. McGinley ruled that Mary Durstein’s activity on social media affected her ability to perform her duties as a teacher at Huntington High School.
McGinley ruled that Durstein’s language in the tweets was enough to disrupt discipline, harmony and confidence at the high school.
Durstein alleged that her employment was wrongfully terminated last year when she was exercising her First Amendments rights. Between 2015 and 2017, there were nine tweets that used anti-Muslim and racist language.
She alleged she was discriminated against and that others who were in similar situations were not terminated.
Durstein contended that her social media posts had nothing to do with her job duties and that the school system was infringing on her First Amendment rights.
McGinley wrote that Durstein’s tweets were directed at groups of people and not individuals and that co-workers within those groups felt threatened and betrayed by her tweets.
McGinley wrote that because of the negative nature of the tweets, they would more likely than not, disrupt discipline and harmony among students and co-worker. He said the tweets were not protected speech and that there was not enough evidence to prove that others in similar situations received less severe discipline for their misconduct.
Durstein has up to 30 days to appeal.
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