America has places in it where the First Amendment doesn’t seem to exist. Take work, for example. As explained here, if you express controversial opinions in a way that makes your boss look bad, you might just be out of a job. But for some, there is hope. In certain situations a Civil Rights lawyer might just help you get your job – or lost salary – back.
Consider what happens when you or those you care about participate in discourse on important social issues.
Imagine you work in the warehouse or corporate office of a big company. You get upset at statements made by the leader of a national fast food chain. The food chain CEO thinks marriage should only be between a man and a woman. You and your friends outside of work disagree. You join your friends and decide to attend a rally. You get out your camera and decide to make your own personal protest video.
You post your video on-line. There you are, expressing your views in the crowd, chanting, holding signs, and celebrating your cause. You’re excited. You’re in the discussion.
And you are shocked when you are fired.
Your boss says you did not reflect the values and accepted conduct of your corporate culture. You defend yourself, saying you were only speaking about matters of public concern and you left your company out of it.
The boss responds, noting that your fellow employers are against you. He says, they agree you should have been fired. You hear him share their opinion: you acted like a rude protester, and that’s not how your company does things.
But not satisfied with this reaction, you think about taking legal action. You want to know: was your termination justified under the law? Can your employer lawfully fire you for simply expressing your own unique point of view? Or does the First Amendment protect you if you speak your mind about matters of public concern?
Well, the answer is: it depends on who you work for.
If you work for the government, the First Amendment protects your right to free speech. But if you work for a private company, the First Amendment does not apply.
Why? Because civil rights are protected from only government interference. Section 1983 of the United States Code gives to every resident of the United States the right to sue every person who, “under color of law,” denies that resident any constitutional rights. And so, Civil Rights cases, also known as “1983” suits, can only be brought against government employers. Private employers are free to fire employees who simply express their opinions in a way that makes the boss look bad.
Many are not aware of this odd wrinkle in the law. The constitution was only designed to protect us from the government. It was not designed to regulate disputes among ordinary citizens and their private employers.
The First Amendment is not a grant of power. It acts as a limit on government intrusion into our lives. So if your boss is the government (i.e., a public school, police department, state governmental agency, or an agency within the federal government) and you get fired for making your own personal protest video and posting it on-line, remember: the law protects you. And so, if you choose to speak your mind and you lose your government job, contact a Civil Rights attorney.
Source by Robert F. DiCello