Internet Law

Hearing Officer Upholds Firing of Assistant AG Who 'Made a Media Spectacle of Himself'

A Michigan grievance officer has upheld the firing of a state assistant attorney general accused of harassing a gay student leader on his blog.

Andrew Shirvell was fired in November 2010 after he railed against University of Michigan student assembly president Chris Armstrong, calling him a “radical homosexual activist.” In a report released this week, William Hutchens of the Michigan Civil Service Commission said the firing was justified, according to the Detroit Free Press and the Associated Press.

Shirvell “deliberately made a media spectacle of himself and the department,” Hutchens said. His conduct constituted “hate speech’ and “physical and mental harassment,” he wrote. Shirvell had contended his blog comments were protected by the First Amendment.

Shirvell’s lawyer, Phil Thomas, told the Free Press that Hutchens’ characterization of Shirvell’s blog as hate speech “is based on his own biased opinion and not on the evidence in the record.” He also said Hutchens found all of Shirvell’s blogging occurred outside work. An appeal is planned.

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