UCF professor files lawsuit against Florida university; defends his controversial tweets

A professor at the University of Central Florida who sent controversial tweets on race and ethnicity in 2020, has filed a lawsuit against UCF.

Dr. Charles Negy was fired by the University in 2021. UCF said he was fired after an investigation found repeated misconduct in his classroom, including imposing his views and about religion, sex and race on students. Negy was later reinstated.  

He told FOX 35 in an interview on Tuesday that he filed the lawsuit not only to clear his name, but also to bring accountability to UCF leaders. He teaches a course on cross-cultural psychology, which combines psychology, sociology, and race/ethnicity studies, and asks students to critically examine issues within all races, cultures, and ethnic groups.

"I've been studying race and culture and ethnicity for 30-plus years. I'm a very data-driven researcher. I don't have an agenda. I'm not trying to romanticize any cultural group or racial group, and I'm not trying to denigrate any racial or cultural group. I want to see them as they are. So, I'm used to covering things in class based on data," he said.

In 2020 around the time of George Floyd’s death, Dr. Negy sent out a controversial tweet that sparked protests at UCF and outside the professor’s home. 

"If Afr. Americans as a group, had the same behavioral profile as Asian Americans (on average, performing the best academically, having the highest income, committing the lowest crime, etc.), would we still be proclaiming ‘systematic racism’ exists?" one tweet read.

Dr. Negy sent out a second tweet: "Black privilege is real: Besides affirm. action, special scholarships and other set asides, being shielded from legitimate criticism is a privilege. But as a group, they’re missing out on much-needed feedback."

In a statement after Negy was fired in 2021, UCF said Dr. Negy was not fired because of his comments on Twitter or in his classroom.

"None of the findings in the investigation are a result of Dr. Negy’s comments on Twitter, which are protected as free expression … or comments in the classroom that were the subject of some students’ complaints but the university determined were protected by academic freedom," UCF said in its statement.

On Tuesday, Negy defended his tweets.

He said he takes a critical look at all races, ethnicities, genders, and religions and debates those issues with his students. However, "it's when I get to African-Americans and sometimes with Muslims where I say things that are based totally on empirical data, sometimes students get upset," Negy said.

"They (his students) think I'm doing something wrong. I should not be criticizing or saying anything negative about those two groups, even if it's based on reality," he said.

He sued UCF claiming he was wrongfully fired.

The case went to an arbitrator who ruled in his favor saying that the school did not give him six months’ notice of termination which is what is included in the union contract and there was no just cause for the firing. He was awarded his job back along with back pay and benefits.

Now, he’s suing the University again for negligence, abuse of process, and intentional infliction of severe emotional distress.

"I'm suing because I want to clear my name because UCF still claims publicly that they stand by their decision that they won't acknowledge that it was a fraudulent pretextual investigation from the get-go," Negy said. 

"And I want to clear my name. I also want to send a message to UCF that we professors and students have free speech. We have academic freedom."

UCF said in a statement to FOX 35 that it cannot comment on pending litigation, but added: "At UCF, we support faculty members’ right to academic freedom and the First Amendment rights of everyone in our campus community to freely express their opinions. At the same time, faculty and staff members have a responsibility to not impose their personal beliefs on students."