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Effort to fire FAU prof offers a glimpse into employee rights

Florida employment law is in the limelight right now in a very big way. At the center of the case is Florida Atlantic University professor James Tracy.

For those who may be unaware, Tracy is a tenured teacher at FAU in the School of Communication and Multimedia Studies. He has garnered headlines in recent years by making controversial claims on his personal blog suggesting that the school shooting at Sandy Hook in Connecticut and other notable U.S. massacres were all staged events.

Not surprisingly, such claims have sparked outrage among those who lost loved ones in the disasters. Indeed, the parents of one Sandy Hook victim accuse Tracy of harassing them by certified letter, demanding that they prove their son had truly existed.

FAU officials notified Tracy this month that the school is pursuing action to have him fired from his post. The notification doesn't cite his blog statements per se as reasons for the action. It says that he failed to provide a required report about his non-university activities, including his blogging, by a specified deadline.

But the action is sparking some wide-ranging debate. Some observers say the grounds FAU is using to cut ties with Tracy may technically be legal. But others say if the school is using the administrative violation to get rid of him, it could find itself fighting an uphill legal battle.

As it is, Tracy reportedly has legal options available and he says he is working to mount a defense against the termination.

Seeking fair treatment from employers is a right workers in Florida enjoy. You might agree that Tracy's claims are reprehensible and worthy of discipline, but if his firing is not valid under the law, the school should expect to be held accountable.

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