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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 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).


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