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Isn’t It My First Amendment Right to Speak My Mind at Work?


While it is true that Americans have First Amendment rights, including free speech, it does not guarantee how others will respond. Yes, the First Amendment allows you to freely express your views. But, if you speak your mind at work the First Amendment does not protect you from termination. Free speech is a core right, but job protection is a separate issue.

If you believe you were unjustly terminated in Ohio, connect with a Columbus employment attorney. What job protections you have can be assessed by a seasoned employment lawyer. There can be differences depending on the position an individual holds. It needs to be taken into account if the position was in the public or private sector, for example.

Difference Between Public Sector Jobs and Private Sector Jobs

In many cases, public sector positions are government jobs. Private sector jobs are positions within individual businesses and organizations.

Three types of public sector employment:

  • Emergency services
  • City councils
  • Education

Individuals choose public jobs for a variety of reasons. There can be more job stability and some of the positions carry excellent benefit packages. Plus, it is common to have opportunities for individuals to move within the system, boosting their position without losing their seniority.

There are many private sector positions. There is more flexibility with private sector positions, individuals can move from one job to another and may have more flexibility when it comes to securing a pay raise. But, competitive marketplaces can result in long work days.

Every person needs to explore the pros and cons of different career paths to know what is best for them. When it comes to First Amendment rights, employees can be terminated for saying inappropriate things. After all, when it comes to at-will employment, an employer can fire a worker for any reason, including not having a reason. Unless the language was protected in some other way, the job is not protected.

Distasteful Statements Outside of Work Can Still Be Problematic

It is also important for workers to know that employer limitations on language is not confined to the workplace. This means an individual may find themselves being reprimanded by an employer for comments made outside of the office. For example, social media posts can become a point of contention. Discuss your situation with a Columbus employment attorney to protect your rights.

That said, there are some protections. According to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), workers are permitted to communicate in order to improve the terms and conditions of their employment. Employees are protected when their discussions are around topics such as pay, benefits, policies, and workplace safety. An employee can’t be legally terminated when their talk is centered on protected activities and speech.

Do you have questions about free speech and your Ohio workplace? Contact the lawyers at Coffman Legal LLC today. We are strong and committed advocates for all Ohio workers and use our experience and knowledge to help you. Call 614-949-1181 for a free and confidential consultation.


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