Do My First Amendment Rights Translate to the Workplace?
To American ears, there is nothing quite so democratic sounding as the freedom of speech. The majority of United States citizens would go so far as to claim that free speech is synonymous with “being American” in the first place. While patriotic and inspiring, this sentiment is, unfortunately, misled within certain contexts, such as the workplace.
First Amendment Misunderstandings
The First Amendment was written specifically regarding the government’s ability to restrict the speech of its citizens. Unless you are employed by the government, your first amendment rights are not as far-reaching as you may have initially thought. Employers are relatively free to restrict employee speech while they are at work. In addition, various other laws govern discriminative speech in the workplace.
Tongue Tied? Take a Look at Exceptions to the Rule
Technically, if you are at work and spouting off about your boss, or even about how much you hate your employer’s favorite sports team, you could be fired, and not have grounds to pursue legal retaliation unless discrimination was to blame.
In certain situations, you are allowed to speak out against your employer:
- If you are objecting to something illegal
- If you are speaking with the goal of improving work conditions
California is more protective of employees than other states. California employees are granted the luxury of free speech protection while they are off duty or not at work, as long as it doesn’t conflict with the employer’s business-related interests. However, you probably won’t be getting any kudos from your employer if your free time is spent publicly griping about your company either. As an at-will employee, you are subject to be let go for a wide variety of reasons, speech being among the foremost.
If you have been fired, and you believe your rights to protected speech were violated, don’t hesitate to speak with our Los Angeles employment law attorney. With decades of experience and hundreds of cases handled, he can help you determine what your rights are if you objected to illegal activity or if your statements fell under legal protection.
Contact Alan Burton Newman, PLC for more information today.