Does Free Speech Protect Me at Work?

I was recently terminated from my job as a part-time Administrative Assistant. My performance review was stellar—zero complaints, perfect attendance, great attitude and work ethic—and I had absolutely no indication that my job was even in jeopardy.

One afternoon, I walked into the office ready to work and in less than 5 minutes time, I was sat down, fired, made to sign a letter and given a pittance severance. I was then hovered over while I quickly got my things from my desk drawer and walked out. They would not even allow me to gather my items from the refrigerator. The CFO and COO literally rushed the entire process so fast I couldn’t even think straight and I refer to the event as an “ambush.”

I understand that an employee cannot be fired due to age, race, gender, or free speech about a topic of social concern. I was fired a short time after I politely expressed my opposition to hunting because the COO was openly discussing his obsession with stalking and killing animals, in graphic and disturbing detail, in my office during business hours.

Did he violate the law in firing me?

To read the answer, click here: Does Free Speech Protect Me at Work?

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6 thoughts on “Does Free Speech Protect Me at Work?

  1. Thank you for this article. So many people are confused about our First Amendment right to free speech. The First Amendment protects us from Federal Government denials of free speech. An employee can criticize her boss’ hunting activities, for example, without fear of punishment from the Federal Government. However, the First Amendment cannot protect her from being fired for those comments, especially in an employment-at-will state.

  2. Grannybunny nailed it.

    I think the company in the letter were jerks to fire the OP because she doesn’t like the boss’s hobby. But I wouldn’t want to work for someone who would terminate an employee for that–and if I saw it happen at my employer, I’d start looking for another job immediately. Draconian policies and actions will cause you to lose good people.

  3. I’m skeptical about this being the actual reason she was fired. Helpful article, though.

    1. I’m skeptical as well, although I’m sure that’s what they told her. I can see a manager thinking it’s easier to say this than to say your work isn’t up to par.

  4. I agree with Renee.
    I believe her comments about her opposition to hunting may have been the final incident management needed to terminate this individual.

  5. I’ve heard of people getting fired for dumber reasons. I also don’t think questioning the writer’s version of events is that helpful in terms of addressing the question they’re raising (does “freedom of speech” protect you at work).

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