Hoeppner Wagner & Evans LLP

July 2014 Archives

Supreme Court Holds That Testimony by Public Employee May be Protected Speech Under the First Amendment

lu_hwe_logo.jpgWhen a government employee testifies, pursuant to subpoena, outside the course of his ordinary job responsibilities, the testimony is protected speech under the First Amendment, and adverse employment actions based on the speech may be unlawful if the speech addresses a matter of public concern and the government/employer has no justification for taking the adverse action against its employee. The Supreme Court recently clarified the line between speech as a citizen and speech as a public employee, and has provided precedent in the form of a specific example: speech compelled by subpoena as an individual citizen. Government employees may give such testimony without fear of retaliation by their employers when they do so as individuals on matters of public concern.

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