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How does the First Amendment protect my rights as a public employee?

Under the First Amendment, public employees have the right to speak out on important issues of public concern. As a general rule, your speech is protected if, as a non-policymaking public employee:

  • You are speaking as a private citizen and not as part of your ordinary or ad hoc job duties,
  • The topic is of public concern, and
  • Your speech does not interfere with your employment in any way.

The government has an interest in sustaining an efficient workplace, which usually requires disciplining and managing their employees’ speech that is part of the job. Nevertheless, for the law generally prohibits a public employee from having fewer free-speech rights than a private citizen who is not employed by a public agency. Case law aims to balance both of these interests by facilitating First Amendment rights for their employees.

Making the right choice in legal representation can make the difference in whether you achieve a result that protects your legal rights and best interests.

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