Free Speech Hiring & Firing

News & Analysis as of

See You In Court! - December 2016

The last game for the Nutmeg Knights couldn’t come fast enough for veteran Nutmeg Board of Education member Bob Bombast. A defensive tackle on the legendary 1984 team, Bob bleeds Nutmeg persimmon and gold and attends every...more

Did You Know…SCOTUS Ruling on Personnel Decision based upon Perceived Political Affiliation Impacts Public Employers

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled on a matter involving “perceived affiliation”, bringing clarity to the matter, where the circuits provided discordant rulings. As a result, personnel actions based upon even mistaken...more

2016 presidential election dynamics in the workplace: Free speech? ‘You’re fired’

None of us are immune from this year’s presidential election dynamics. Disrespect and name-calling seem more prevalent than policy discussions. The election is highly polarizing, potentially pitting employee against...more

Political Speech in the Workplace

The upcoming presidential election between two larger-than-life characters, each capable of stirring intense emotional reactions from both sides, is sure to produce some spirited debate around the water cooler this fall. ...more

Can Social Media Posts Lead to Termination?

The short answer is “yes.” Employers are permitted to terminate employees based upon their social media posts. Some may be surprised by this. Many will claim that such a termination violates the employee’s “freedom of...more

Ninth Circuit Holds Section 1983 First Amendment Retaliation Claim Not Necessarily Precluded By Age Discrimination in Employment...

On August 5, 2016, the U.S Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) does not preclude a First Amendment retaliation claim under section 1983 of the federal Civil Rights...more

Busting Employment Law Myths

Employment lawyers get to hear lots of great stories and lots of client opinions. That’s part of why we love our jobs. Many of the stories describe goofy or inappropriate employee behavior – and some include goofy or...more

Supreme Court Extends Public Sector Employees' First Amendment Rights

A public sector employee may now have a First Amendment and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim even where the public sector employee has not engaged in protected First Amendment political activity. This may be the case if a public...more

Cooling hot political buttons

During every political campaign, I am reminded of the notion that if we speak about our co-workers or subordinates in the manner in which the American voter speaks about political candidates, we should expect some remediation...more

Misread Signs: U.S. Supreme Court Finds Employer’s Mistaken Belief about Employee Supports Retaliation Claim

Is it still retaliation if your boss fired you for something you didn’t actually do? In Heffernan v. City of Paterson, New Jersey, the U.S. Supreme Court said yes—your boss’s mistake does not get him off the hook for the...more

Demotion Based on Mistaken Belief Deprives Public Employee of Constitutional Rights

U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Case Involving Political Campaigning Accusations - A government agency violated the constitutional rights of an employee who was demoted based on the mistaken belief that he violated the...more

But I Didn’t Mean To! U.S. Supreme Court Says Employer Intentions Govern in First Amendment Retaliation Case

For government employers, disciplining and terminating employees can be especially difficult. Not only does the public employer face the same challenges in complying with the standard alphabet soup of employment laws that...more

Schilling Firing: Can You Fire An Employee for What They Say on Social Media?

This week ESPN fired pitcher-turned-broadcaster Kurt Schilling for an allegedly offensive tweet about the recently passed law in North Carolina requiring persons to use the restroom associated with the sex of their birth. As...more

Employment Law Letter - Spring 2016

Will Smoking Pot on the Job Get You Fired? You’d think that would be a slam dunk question, but if you’re a state employee whose union is willing to take your case to an arbitrator, apparently it isn’t. Back in 2012,...more

Higher Education Highlights - Spring 2016

Upcoming changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act salary-basis test may convert many of your smartphone-toting exempt employees into non-exempt employees, requiring you to track the evening and weekend time these employees...more

Won’t You Please, Please Yelp Me?

Yelp, I need somebody - Yelp, not just anybody - Yelp, you know I need someone - Yelp! My apologies to the Beatles. But the notion that one can’t do it alone and expect to be protected, may just be an apt moral in today’s...more

Must An Employer Tolerate Truly Obnoxious Employee Speech That Is Not Job-Related?

There is a tenured professor at Florida Atlantic University School of Communications and Multi-Media Studies who has gained notoriety because of his public statements, including a blog, which claim that virtually every mass...more

As The Rotunda Turns . . . Affair, Coverup, Retaliation — And Lawsuit Against State House

You may have heard about the two Tea Party legislators in Michigan who were having an affair, engaged in a bizarre cover-up that failed, had to resign/were expelled, and then lost their election bids to get their seats back....more

Connecticut’s Highest Court Expands Whistleblower Protections for Employees

What you need to know: Last Monday, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in Trusz v. UBS Realty Investors that private sector employees who make whistleblower statements pursuant to their official job duties are protected...more

Whistleblower Liability: Two Recent U.S. Supreme Court Rulings Could Have Major Implications for Employers

The United States Supreme Court’s 2013-14 docket featured a number of labor and employment law decisions warranting employers’ attention. Media headlines focused mostly on cases dealing with employers’ religious beliefs and...more

Not My Brother’s Keeper: Varley v. Regional School District No. 4 and A School District’s Responsibility For “Free Speech” Claims...

When entering into contacts with vendors, school districts hope that 1) the vendor will comply with the law, and 2) in any event, the vendor will be responsible for its own employment-related disputes. In Varley v. Regional...more

NLRB Concocts New F’ing Profanity Excuse

In 2005, a Starbucks barista walked into his store with several co-workers while staroff duty. He was there to protest Starbucks’ policy concerning baristas wearing pro-union pins. A row ensued between the barista and an...more

Facebook: Fireable Offense or Free Speech?

The interplay between an employee’s postings on Facebook and the impact of those postings on his or her employment status is an evolving area of the law. Just last month, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of...more

California Employment Law Notes - January 2014

TV Station's Failure To Hire Weather News Anchor Was Protected By Free Speech Rights - Hunter v. CBS Broadcasting, Inc., 221 Cal. App. 4th 1510 (2013) - Kyle Hunter sued CBS Broadcasting for age and gender...more

What's in a "Like"? Precedent-Setting Case Poses New Risk for Employers

The ubiquitous thumbs-up icon in Facebook has gained new prominence for private employers. In a case of first impression, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that an employee fired for "liking" the campaign...more

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