I want know if my 1st Amendment rights were violated when my employer used my talking with other associates about deporting illegals to fire me

My employer used the 3 incidents rule to fire me, the last one was that I was
talking to other associates about illegal immigration and Mexican Housekeepers
overheard me and were offended, I feel that my Constitutional Rights were
violated and I would like to sue them

Asked on April 7, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Colorado


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

The first amendment applies to government action, not that of a private employer. As for any claim of discrimination, you not only don't have a claim (since speaking in a biased and disruptive manner does not put you in a "protected class"), not taking action against you for such talk could open your employer up to a racial discrimination claim, which could be brought by the Mexican housekeepers. Additionally, most employment is "at will" which means that a company can terminate a worker for any reason or no reason at all.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Assuming you were working for a private (non-governmental) employer, you have no 1st Amendment rights at work: the 1st Amendment applies against *government* action suppressing or restricting speech. A private employer is not bound by it and can fire an employee for almost any speech found offensive or disruptive. Indeed, given that you were engaged in what is considered at work to be illegal race or national origin based discrimination or harassment (e.g. under Title VI), if the employer did not take action against you, the Mexican employees could possibly have brought an EEOC complaint against the employer--i.e. you did something which a prudent employer would take action about.

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