Recently free speech in the workplace has become a bigger concern among the public after a Google employee was fired for sending out a memo criticizing the company’s policy. Many were defending the former employee, explaining that the information he provided was something that should be exposed so a change can be made, and he was within his free speech rights. So, the question is are employees protected by the freedom of speech clause of the First Amendment? Generally the First Amendment only protects a citizens rights from the government. Private workplaces are allowed to create their own policies on the matter, and employees are required to follow them. An employee of a private corporation will not be protected by the first amendment if they were to say something the company considers defamatory. I agree that if something slanderous or defamatory is said towards an employer or company by an employee, the employer is well within their rights to fire them for it. However if someone has religious, political beliefs, etc, that differ from their employer, I feel the employees should be fully protected by the first amendment from losing their job for that reason. For example, in 2004, Lynne Gobbell was fired from her job simply for having a John Kerry bumper sticker, which her employer disapproved of. This is just one of many examples that puts Jeanette Cox’s quote, “to keep your job, you often can’t say what you like.”, into context. So in conclusion, Are employees protected? Generally speaking, no. There are basic things employees are allowed to discuss and still be protected, such as wages and hours, however the employers still will have final say in what is considered acceptable while under their employment.
- Find Law. “Freedom Of Speech In The Workplace: The First Amendment Revisited.”Findlaw, corporate.findlaw.com/law-library/freedom-of-speech-in-the-workplace-the-first-amendment-revisited.html.
- Staff, Marketplace. “The First Amendment Won’t Protect You from Saying Something Your Company Doesn’t Like.” Marketplace, Marketplace, 8 Aug. 2017, www.marketplace.org/2017/08/08/business/speaking-out-workplace.
- Cox, Jeannette. “A Chill Around the Water Cooler: First Amendment in the Workplace.” A Chill Around the Water Cooler: First Amendment in the Workplace, www.americanbar.org/publications/insights_on_law_andsociety/15/winter-2015/chill-around-the-water-cooler.html.
- Isidore, Chris. “Free Speech on the Job, and What That Means.” CNNMoney, Cable News Network, money.cnn.com/2017/08/08/technology/google-workplace-free-speech/index.html.