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Police Chief Loses Free Speech Claim In Post-Garcetti/Lane World

To say that free speech law with respect to public employees is in serious disarray is not an understatement. To point to Supreme Court decisions as the source of the confusion is an easy target. Before 2006, there was little controversy over the scope of the free speech rights of public employees. Courts looked at whether the speech concerned a matter of public concern and, if so, balanced the…

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Supreme Court Reels In Garcetti Rule

No rules of constitutional law arising out of the public sector workplace have been as impacted by a Supreme Court decision as the free speech rights of public employees were by the Court’s decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410 (2006). In Garcetti, the Court held that “when public employees make statements pursuant to their official duties, the employees are not speaking as citizens for First Amendment purposes,…

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Protests Of Quota System Part Of Corporal’s Job, And Thus Unprotected By Constitution

Jeffrey Taylor is a corporal with the Pennsylvania State Police, and is stationed at the Troop T Pocono Station. At a December 2008 staff meeting, Taylor voiced objections to the institution of what he perceived to be an illegal quota system for traffic stops. Following the meeting, Taylor sent a letter alleging the existence and illegality of the quota system to the Commissioner of the State Police. Taylor also…

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The Strange World Of First Amendment Law Under Garcetti

There’s little question that the Supreme Court’s decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410 (2006) brought about a revolution in First Amendment law. Under Garcetti, no First Amendment free speech violation occurs if an employer retaliates against an employee for making a truthful statement as part of the employee’s job. So it was that there was a bit of an Alice In Wonderland air to a recent decision…

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First Thursday, August 2013

Download the podcast (Use this link to listen on Apple devices) Subscribe to this podcast via RSS or iTunes Subscribe to this podcast by email Due to summer vacation, this month’s First Thursday was a week late (hey, we all need to recharge our batteries). But don’t worry, it’s still chock-full of useful information! Featured in this month’s podcast: A round of decisions on…

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Internal Affairs Investigation Not Protected By First Amendment

Under the Supreme Court’s decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410 (2006), public employees have no free speech right when they “make statements pursuant to their official duties.” In other words, the Constitution provides no protection to an employee for speech that is part of the job, and the employer is constitutionally free to discipline the employee for the speech, even if the speech is truthful. A lawsuit…

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‘Speaking As An Employee’ Versus ‘Speaking As A Citizen’

A case involving the Somerset County, Maryland Sheriff’s Office is a good illustration of the operative dichotomy in free speech law since the Supreme Court’s decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410 (2006). If the employee is “speaking as an employee” when s/he is saying or writing something, then the speech is unprotected by the First Amendment. On the other hand, if the employee is “speaking as a…

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Part-Time Police Officers Who Complained About On-Duty Drinking Lose Free Speech Claim

A group of seasonal and/or part-time police officers previously employed by the Village of Ocean Beach, New York Police Department filed a federal court lawsuit against the Village alleging a variety of constitutional violations. The officers alleged that beginning in May 2002, the Police Chief hired officers who had not been certified by the civil service department of Suffolk County, hired civilians as police dispatchers, permitted police officers to…

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The March Of Garcetti Cases Continues – No Free Speech Rights In The Workplace

In Garcetti v. Ceballos, 126 S.Ct. 1951 (2006), the United States Supreme Court held that the First Amendment provides no protections to an employee who is disciplined for speech that occurred as part of the employee’s job. The dozens of cases since Garcetti have made it abundantly clear how far the lower courts are construing the Garcetti decision. What follows is a summary of public employee free speech cases…

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