Where Does Freedom of Speech End at Work?

Freedom of speech seems to be as hot a topic as ever. We are fortunate to live in a nation that supports our right to free speech in a public setting. However, this right does not always extend to the workplace. Yes, you can express your opinions freely in many places without fear of legal repercussion. This does not mean that your employer must protect your right to do so when you are on the job.

The team at Sattiraju & Tharney, LLP, is here to help you preserve your rights at work. If you believe that your rights have been violated in the workplace, we can provide legal knowledge and guidance.

Understanding Free Speech on the Job

You may have a variety of rights as an employee, but free speech is not necessarily one of them. Before you decide to take legal action because your right to free speech was impeded at work, consider these points:

  • Right to Employment – Although you are protected by the Constitution in terms of verbally expressing yourself, you do not have a right to be employed. Private employers can terminate workers for using language that they deem inappropriate. If the nature of your speech offends co-workers, clients, or management, you could find yourself without a job. In many cases, there will be no legal recourse for losing employment for this reason.
  • Government Workers – If you are a public (government) employee, you are protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments. If you choose to exercise free speech in the workplace as a government worker, you will be protected by law from retaliation on the part of your employer.
  • National Labor Relations Act – In 1935, the National Labor Relations Act was passed. This act protects workers from retaliation if they are engaging in “concerted activity” for the purpose of collective bargaining or another form of mutual aid. In other words, your employer cannot fire you for participating in a lawful organized activity with a goal of securing fair wages or more benefits. Additionally, this right extends to all employees and not only to union workers. Keep in mind that this does not give employees the right to make threatening comments.

When in Doubt, Consult a Professional New Jersey Employment Lawyer

Laws that protect employees can be confusing, and a variety of factors may affect workers’ rights. Consult a New Jersey employment lawyer from Sattiraju & Tharney, LLP, if you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated or otherwise violated at work.

Need to speak with an employment lawyer in New Jersey or New York? Call us today at 609-722-7023 (New Jersey) or 609-722-7023 (New York). You may also fill out our easy online contact form for a free case review.