The First Amendment in the Workplace

Jeremy Leahy

Jeremy Leahy, Host of Standing Ground on Red State Talk Radio

The First Amendment in the Workplace, by Jeremy Leahy

In recent weeks Americans have been inundated with the controversy surrounding NFL players choosing to kneel during the National Anthem. Regardless of which side of the issue one resides with respect to this drama there is one fact that a lot people don’t seem to understand.

You have no First Amendment rights in the workplace.

Whether you are working in an office, a department store, a coffee shop or on a professional football field-you shed your Constitutional rights at the door. They don’t exist.

The First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law abridging the right to free speech. “

That does not mean that a company or private entity shall make no policy. The First Amendment like other civil liberties are designed to prevent government interference, not private interference.

In order for a First Amendment violation to take place their needs a public action.

Think about it this way. If an an employer suspects that an employee may have illegal drugs or any other contraband in their desk, the employer does not need a search warrant to look through the desk. If the police show up at the office and wish to search an employee’s desk, they would in fact need   probable cause and would require a warrant to conduct such a search.

This past week ESPN suspended Jewelers Hill for making insulting remarks on her twitter account. Everything she said was protected by the First Amendment. She can’t be fined by the government or incarcerated; however she can suffer the consequences of her actions. The First Amendment can never protect you from consequences. Ask Kathy Griffin.

Speech is broadly protected and narrowly restricted. Examples of restrictions by the government are words that incite violence, fighting words, assault and defamation. These aforementioned could easily land you in court.

We all know the famous quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes. “The First Amendment does not protect ones right to go into a crowded theatre and falsely yell fire.” He also said “You have a Constitutional right to free speech. You don’t have a Constitutional right to a job.”

Professional football players who kneel during the National Anthem are engaging in a form of expression, but the expression is not Constitutionally protected. The NFL has every right to establish a policy that requires their employees to stand during the National Anthem.  When they are on the field they are in the workplace.

Jeremy Leahy
Host: Standing Ground
Red State Talk Radio