News & Analysis as of

SCOTUS Affirms Right to Blow Your Whistle in Public Sector

There has long been tension in the public sector regarding an employee’s duties as an agent of the state and his or her right as an individual to freedom of speech. In a decision handed down in June of 2014, the United States...more

Supreme Court Invalidates Union Fee Requirements Imposed on Homecare Employees

On June 30, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Illinois law that required homecare providers for Medicaid recipients to pay fees to a union. In Harris v. Quinn, the Court held that compulsory union agency fees imposed on...more

Harris v. Quinn Decision May Set Stage for Further Rulings Limiting Public Unions

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Harris v. Quinn. As readers of my June 10 posting will recall, the plaintiffs in that case objected on First Amendment grounds to being required to contribute public union dues as a...more

Supreme Court Issues Decision In Harris V.Quinn: Abood Survives, But For How Long?

On Monday, the United States Supreme Court issued its anxiously anticipated decision in Harris v. Quinn, a case brought by Illinois home health aides challenging the requirement in a collective bargaining agreement that they...more

U.S. Supreme Court Finds Sworn Testimony Outside Scope of Regular Job Duties Entitled to First Amendment Protection

While the labor and employment law world is abuzz after the decisions in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Harris v. Quinn (cases this Blog will cover in the coming days), the United States Supreme Court also issued a decision...more

Agency Fees Can’t Be Required for Illinois Rehab Personal Assistants, SCOTUS Rules

The State of Illinois cannot require Rehabilitation Program “personal assistants” (PAs) who decide not to join a union, to pay compulsory union dues, commonly known as “agency fees,” the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Harris v....more

Radical Shift Coming In Public Sector Agency Fees

On Monday, the Supreme Court took a swipe at public sector compulsory unionism. In doing so, the Court took a slice out of decades of Supreme Court jurisprudence and suggested a future re-thinking of agency fees in the public...more

Supreme Court Rejects Labor’s Mandatory Dues Collection Initiative in Favor of Workers’ First Amendment Rights

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States held that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits a public-employee union from collecting an agency fee from home-care workers who do not want to join or...more

Supreme Court Decides Harris v. Quinn

On June 30, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Harris v. Quinn, No. 11-681, holding that the First Amendment does not permit a state to compel public employees to subsidize speech on matters of public concern by a union...more

Two Significant Decisions Affecting Employers Issued the Final Day of the U.S. Supreme Court Session

On the last day of its 2013-2014 session, the U.S. Supreme Court held today that (1) for-profit companies are protected as "persons" under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) and (2) that the...more

Supreme Court Strikes Down Mandatory Union "Fair Share" Deductions For Public Sector Employees

Today, in a 5 to 4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to extend its previous holdings regarding “fair-share” fees (fees that an employee who refuses to join a union is required to pay in lieu of union dues) to...more

United States Supreme Court Strikes Down Illinois Regulatory Framework Requiring Personal Assistants for Medicaid Recipients to...

In its much anticipated decision in Harris v. Quinn, 573 U.S. __ (2014), the Supreme Court of the United States in a five to four ruling struck down an Illinois regulatory framework that required personal assistants (PAs) for...more

Supreme Court Finds Public Employee's Testimony in Criminal Trial Protected Under First Amendment

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that a public employee cannot be retaliated against by his employer based on testimony provided by him under subpoena in a criminal proceeding. In Lane v. Franks, the...more

First Amendment Protects Public Employees for Sworn Testimony Given Outside Scope of Regular Job Duties on Matters of Public...

U.S. Supreme Court Makes Unanimous Ruling in Lane v. Franks - The First Amendment protects a public employee from adverse employment action taken in retaliation for providing truthful sworn testimony, compelled by...more

Supremes Rule That Trial Speech is Protected Speech

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court issued an important decision affecting public employers and employee First Amendment rights to free speech. Lane v. Franks et al., No. 13-483 (U.S. June 19, 2014). Central Alabama Community...more

The Supreme Court Says Public Employee’s Court Testimony Protected From Retaliation Under The First Amendment, At Least To The...

Eight years ago the United States Supreme Court, in Garcetti v. Ceballos, instructed that speech undertaken pursuant to a public employee’s job duties is “employee” speech and not “citizen” speech, and hence is not protected...more

U.S. Supreme Court Rules that Sworn Testimony by Employee is Protected by the First Amendment

Providing truthful, sworn testimony outside the course of ordinary job duties is First Amendment speech for the purposes of retaliation lawsuits, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 19, 2004. The ruling prohibits a public...more

U.S. Supreme Court Holds Sworn Testimony Relating to Public Employee’s Employment Protected by First Amendment Where Speech is...

Recently, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to resolve whether a public employee’s testimony in response to a subpoena is entitled to First Amendment protection where providing such testimony is outside the...more

Did You Know…Compelled Public Employee Testimony May Be Protected By the First Amendment

The Supreme Court’s recent unanimous decision in Lane v. Franks held that the First Amendment protects a public employee who provided truthful sworn testimony, compelled by subpoena, outside the course of his ordinary job...more

U.S. Supreme Court Unanimously Holds That Public Employee’s Truthful Subpoenaed Testimony Was Protected Speech Under the First...

It has long been recognized that public employees are not excluded from First Amendment protection, and for more than 40 years the courts have wrestled with balancing the free speech rights of a public employee against the...more

Supremes Rule That Trial Speech is Protected Speech – Part 1

This morning the U.S. Supreme Court issued an important decision affecting public employers and employee First Amendment rights to free speech. Lane v. Franks et al., No. 13-483 (U.S. June 19, 2014) Central Alabama Community...more

Public Employers and Unions Hold Breath as High Court Ponders Whether Public Employees Can Be Compelled to Pay Dues

The U.S. Supreme Court will recess for the summer at the end of June. But before doing so, it must decide the remaining cases on its docket from the October 2013 term, including Harris v. Quinn. Strangely, this case has...more

(Academic) Freedom Is Free(r)

Samuel Johnson, the 18th-century English writer and lexicographer, observed that “words are but the signs of ideas.” While not intended as such, Dr. Johnson’s insight neatly summarizes one of the catalyzing principles for the...more

Refining the First Amendment Status of Social Media Activity by Government Employees

The Supreme Court’s 1968 decision in Pickering v. Board of Education allows governmental employers, including law enforcement agencies, to fire or discipline employees for disrupting operations with excessive complaining, but...more

Ninth Circuit Finds That The Garcetti “Official Duties” Rule Does Not Apply To Public University Employee Academic Speech

Just this month, in Demers v. Austin, 729 F.3d 1011 (9th Cir. 2013), the Ninth Circuit became the first federal circuit court to hold that techers employed by the state had a First Amendment right on speech made in academic...more

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