Is it legal if my employer made me sign a paper that I cannot talk to anyone about what goes on at work?

UPDATED: Sep 7, 2012

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Is it legal if my employer made me sign a paper that I cannot talk to anyone about what goes on at work?

She told me that I could talk to my counselor but I can’t talk to friends or co-workers about anything that goes on at work. This seems like it infringes upon my freedom of speech. I mean most people will talk about their job to others and how their employer treats them. I feel like my employer treats me unfairly from time to time. I had no choice; I had to sign the paper. My employer told me that any talk about the organization could be result in defaming the organization. It is a non-profit.

Asked on September 7, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Indiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There is no freedom of speech in employment, unless you work for the government: the First Amendment (and other Constitutional Amendments) apply against government action, not against private (even non-profit) employer action. A private employer can require you to not discuss what you do at or goes on at work; this restriction, while unusual, is legal, with the following limitations:

1) They can't prevent you from discussing work in the context of possible unionization, if applicable.

2) They can't prevent you from reporting crimes.

3) They can't prevent you from making labor- or employment-related claims (like for overtime; that you were the victim of racial, age, or sexual discrimination; for Worker's Compensation; etc.).

4) If you are subpoena'd or otherwise subject to a court order to discuss matters, you can discuss matters (though they can go to court to try to get the judge to put the order aside or place limitations on it).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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