Judge Says Shirvell Entitled To Jobless Benefits

Oct 29, 2012

A court has ruled the former assistant attorney general who was fired for harassing a gay student leader at the University of Michigan is entitled to unemployment benefits.

 A judge in Lansing says that’s because Andrew Shirvell was discharged for exercising his free speech rights. 

The state denied Andrew Shirvell’s unemployment claim because he was fired for misconduct. Shirvell drew widespread attention for his blog attacking Chris Armstrong – who was the first openly gay U-of-M student body president. Shirvell also protested at events attended by Armstrong and staked out his house.

Then-Attorney General Mike Cox at first defended Shirvell’s right to voice his opinion, but eventually fired him.  Armstrong sued Shirvell and won a $4.5 million judgment.

In an order dated October 17th, Judge Paula Manderfield said Shirvell was not fired for misconduct, but for exercising his free speech rights. She reversed a decision by a state unemployment benefits board. The state could file a challenge to Manderfield’s decision with the Michigan Court of Appeals.