Can an employer interfere with your freedom of speech?

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Can an employer interfere with your freedom of speech?

I live in Indiana and my wifes boss told her to leave be cause she was complaining about the

staffing agency she goes through. Can they fire you because of that or isn’t that interference with the freedom of speech?

Asked on April 27, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Indiana

Answers:

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

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

The first amendment (i.e the one that provides for the freedom of speech) only applies to government limitations/restrictions on speech. It does not apply to private businesses. Accordingly, a company can set the conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit absent a union agreement/employment contract to the contrary or some fom of legally actionable discrimination. Neither of which you indicated to be the case. 

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

There is a common misconception that you have a right to free speech in private employment, or that the 1st Amendment applies to private business. It does not: the 1st Amendment prohibits the *government* from interfering in speech, but it does not apply to private business. A private employer is not subject to the 1st Amendment and may terminate employees for what they say.


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