Professor allegedly fired for anti-mask stance files lawsuit
Patricia Griffin, a former professor of marketing, claims that the University of Southern Maine fired her after she requested data that would support the university’s mask mandate.
'She was fired under the pretense and pretext that she didn’t, that she wouldn’t obey the mask mandates. That’s simply not true. She simply asked for information,' Griffin's lawyer told Campus Reform.
A former professor at the University of Southern Maine Patricia Griffin filed a lawsuit, Griffin v. University of Maine System, University of Southern Maine, Glenn Cummings, on July 14 after being fired in 2021 over the university’s mask mandate.
Griffin, a former professor of marketing, claims that the university fired her after she requested data that would support the university’s mask mandate.
According to the lawsuit, Griffin attended a luncheon in August 2021 remotely that then-President Glenn Cummings attended in person. Griffin claimed that Cummings was not adhering to the mask policy which prompted her to request the data responsible for the policy.
After making her request, Griffin’s classes were removed from the fall 2021 schedule. She was scheduled for a disciplinary hearing on August 27, 2021.
After the hearing, Griffin allegedly received a letter from Cummings accusing her of failing to adhere to the mask mandate and that she was suspended. Griffin was fired on September 22.
Campus Reform spoke to Griffin’s attorney, Stephen Smith, regarding the lawsuit. He told Campus Reform the claim that Griffin did not obey the mask mandate was “simply not true.”
“She was fired under the pretense and pretext that she didn’t, that she wouldn’t obey the mask mandates," Smith stated. "That’s simply not true. She simply asked for information about them.”
Smith said that while Griffin didn’t believe in the mask mandates, she didn’t break them.
"I think it is fair to say she did not believe in the mask mandates, but she had never made a statement that she would not obey the mask mandates," Smith said. "She simply was challenging the assumptions and requesting information."
According to Smith, the school never provided any information Griffin requested to support the mandates.
Cummings announced in October, just a few weeks after Griffin’s alleged firing, that he would be stepping down in June of 2022.
“It has been the honor of my life to serve the students of the University of Southern Maine as president,” Cummings said, “I’m excited for what the future holds for the University of Southern Maine, and I’m excited to explore new opportunities and new challenges both professionally and personally.”
Campus Reform also contacted USM for comment. Interim Executive Director of Communications Margaret Nagle told Campus Reform that the university plans to “vigorously defend itself.”
“The University of Maine System will vigorously defend itself and other named parties against this lawsuit," she said in an email, "We look forward to presenting the facts in court," she said.
Campus Reform made the best effort to contact Mr. Cummings. This article will be updated accordingly.
Follow @kliseanderson on Twitter.