What workers need to know about their rights to free speech online You can’t get on most forms of social media these days without seeing something about the upcoming election. But with so many discussions around hot-button issues such as race, religion, and equality, you may wonder if airing your opinions on social media could get you into trouble at work. Let’s take a look at some things you should know about how your online activities could impact your job. Freedom of Speech Many people have the mistaken belief that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution affords a right to free speech that allows citizens to say whatever they like without fear of repercussions. That’s only partially true. While the First Amendment does contain some language protecting freedom of speech, the amendment stops short of protecting all language. For example, speech that incites lawless action is generally not protected. It’s also important to note that the First Amendment mainly pertains to the government’s role in free speech. Generally, the amendment is intended to protect people from being silenced, jailed, or otherwise punished for putting forth certain ideas. However, the right to free speech generally does not bar companies from [...]
Four female employees say they were targeted for complaining about their supervisor Filing a complaint against a superior, especially one who is in an extremely powerful position, can be scary. Even though the law offers protection from retaliation after making a complaint about unlawful activity, employees often fear that they’ll be fired or have to face other consequences that could make their working lives extremely unpleasant. That’s what happened to four female police officers who took a stand against their supervisor. After being subjected to subtle and not-so-subtle retaliation, the women sued. Recently, the court awarded them a massive victory. Let’s take a look at what happened in this case and then discus the many forms that unlawful retaliation may take. Your Career Stops Here Lt. Annica Hagadorn, the highest-ranking African-American female in the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, felt that her career had hit the proverbial “glass ceiling.” She claims that she was repeatedly and unfairly passed over for opportunities for advancement that were extended toward other officers, so she filed a discrimination complaint. After that, she says, her working life suddenly took a downturn. She was reassigned from her local patrol to a post at a jail that was [...]
How at-will employment can be used to disguise discrimination Can you be fired simply because your boss doesn’t like you? While the concept may seem unfair, it’s not necessarily unlawful. Many states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey, are at-will employment states. That means that unless a narrow category of exceptions applies, employers generally have the right to terminate employees at any time, for any reason – or even for no reason at all. Similarly, that also means that employees generally have the right to resign at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all, with or without notice. However, it’s important to know that some employers may use the at-will doctrine to terminate employees for discriminatory reasons. Let’s take a look at who is and isn’t an at-will employee, and how some unscrupulous employers may attempt to misconstrue the concept to get away with unlawful behavior. At-Will Doesn’t Apply to Everyone There are some important exceptions to the at-will employment doctrine, including: Employees who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement. These workers are usually protected by special clauses that spell out permissible reasons and procedures for termination. Civil service workers. They may be covered by provisions [...]
School employee suspended after refusing to stop 50-yard line invocations The game was over at Bremerton High’s football stadium outside of Seattle. Some team members headed toward the locker room, but others joined assistant coach Joe Kennedy near the 50-yard line. Kennedy knelt down in the middle of the throng, closed his eyes, and began his familiar post-game prayer for the last time. “Lord, I thank you for these kids and the blessing you’ve given me with them. We believe in the game, we believe in competition, and we can come into it as rivals and leave as brothers.” Kennedy had been saying that prayer, or some variation of it, on the 50-yard line after every Bremerton game since he was hired in 2008. Players sometimes joined him, as did spectators and even players and coaching staff from the opposing teams. But a few weeks ago, someone made a call to the school board, and Kennedy was ordered to stop his post-game prayers. He refused. After the game on October 16, the man who had become an unintentional lightning rod in the debate over school prayer was placed on paid administrative leave. Did the school board do what it had [...]
Teacher terminated for venting about job on Facebook
You’ve heard a supervisor use offensive language when talking to another staffer. Eventually, the coworker decides to sue and asks you to be a witness in the case.
You like your job well enough and you’re good at it, but your boss rubs you the wrong way.