Have a general question about employment law? Want to share a story? I welcome all comments and questions. I can't give legal advice here about specific situations but will be glad to discuss general issues and try to point you in the right direction. If you need legal advice, contact an employment lawyer in your state. Remember, anything you post here will be seen publicly, and I will comment publicly on it. It will not be confidential. Govern yourself accordingly. If you want to communicate with me confidentially as Donna Ballman, Florida lawyer rather than as Donna Ballman, blogger, my firm's website is here.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Just Because Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson Survived Doesn't Mean You Have Free Speech At Work

Unless you've been out of the country for the holidays, you probably heard about the brouhaha over Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson's anti-gay and racist comments. He was interviewed by GQ and made comments that got him suspended indefinitely by A&E Television Networks, LLC. That caused an uproar, with petitions from Robertson supporters flying and claims that A&E violated his First Amendment rights. He was then reinstated.

Does this mean that you should let loose with your beliefs about race, women, gays, or religion at work or in your public social media? Heck no. You probably aren't bringing in millions of dollars of revenue to the company. You probably don't have thousands of supporters who will petition for you. You'll just be fired.

My latest article at AOL Jobs has gotten a huge number of angry comments from readers who swear I'm ignorant about the First Amendment and got this wrong. If you're a regular reader here, you know there's no right to free speech at work. You can refresh your memory by reading about Ozzie Guillen's run-in with free speech at work and 10 Workplace Rights You Think You Have - But Don't.  

If you want to read my AOL Jobs piece on Duck Dynasty (or just want to see the comments - over 1500 and climbing), the article is here.

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I appreciate your comments and general questions but this isn't the place to ask confidential legal questions. If you need an employee-side employment lawyer, try http://exchange.nela.org/findalawyer to locate one in your state.