Nevada Tenure Lawsuits Legally Tenuous

I am an injury lawyer. Areas of law overlap, though, and I try to make it a habit to understand, generally, employment law in Nevada.

Nevada has always been an employer-oriented state in the view of the Nevada Supreme Court. This held true once again in a noteworthy case that arose from a disgruntled professor's denial of tenure.

There, the Court held that tenure is a multidimensional, subjective, decision-making process where numerous traits and work habits of a professor are considered. The Court went on to say that the University of Nevada, Reno's denial of tenure was discretionary under the contract and not a breach of contract. Faculty appointment at the university level, said the Court, is an area poorly suited for judicial supervision, and thus one where judicial restraint must be exercised. This judicial reluctance to intrude upon university decisions is imbedded in the deeply rooted principles of academic freedom. Academic freedom, though not a specifically enumerated constitutional right, long has been viewed as a special concern of the First Amendment. University of Nevada, Reno v. Stacey, 116 Nev. 428, 997 P.2d 812 (2000).

This case makes clear that professors need to think twice before challenging tenure decisions in Nevada.