For government employers, disciplining and terminating employees can be especially difficult. Not only does the public employer face the same challenges in complying with the standard alphabet soup of employment laws that private employers do, including the ADA, ADEA, FMLA, Title VII, etc., they also have the complicated task of considering the application of an
The United States Supreme Court has issued a decision further clarifying protected speech under the First Amendment. In Lane v. Franks, et al., the Court analyzed whether a public employee, testifying under subpoena, was entitled to First Amendment protection when his testimony was outside of the scope of his job duties.
Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Finds Sworn Testimony Outside Scope of Regular Job Duties Entitled to First Amendment Protection
A Pennsylvania man lost his job in September 2012 and is now without unemployment compensation. Why? He called his boss a “clown.”
On October 17, 2013, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court affirmed the decision of an unemployment compensation Referee and the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review denying Alfonso Miller unemployment benefits.
Miller, a 5-year employee of a private Philadelphia-based organization providing comprehensive services to individuals with disabilities, had some choice words for his supervisor during his regularly scheduled performance evaluation. After calling his supervisor a “[expletive] clown” and referring to the entire evaluation process as a joke, Miller was fired from his job.
Continue Reading Calling Your Boss a Clown: No Laughing Matter
This post was contributed by James Welch, a Summer Associate with McNees Wallace and Nurick LLC. Mr. Welch will begin his third year of law school at William & Mary School of Law in the fall, and he expects to earn his J.D. in May 2012.
In Borough of Duryea v. Guarnieri, 113 S.Ct. 2488 (2011) (PDF), the United States Supreme Court clarified that, although the Petition Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution provides public employees separate and distinct protections, those protections are essentially the same as those afforded by the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. This is good news for public sector employers, who already face a slew of additional concerns in the area of employee discipline.
The Petition Clause has been trendy for public employees lately, but its contours have been somewhat unclear. Generally, the Petition Clause protects the rights of individuals to petition the government to seek redress of grievances. The courts have held that this provision protects public employees who file grievances against their employers. In other words, public employers are prohibited from retaliating against an employee who has filed a grievance or other complaint.
However, like other protections afforded to employees, there are limits to the protections afforded by the Petition Clause. The issue in Guarnieri was, what types of grievances/complaints are protected? …
As a public employer, your actions are considered the actions of the government or the “state.” This dual persona brings with it additional obligations and challenges that private employers do not face. Some of these obligations include the requirement to provide due process rights to employees, and the challenges include a seemingly endless variety of…