Speech Protections in the Digital Age: California Partner’s Insight
San Francisco Partner Wendy McGuire Coats was quoted in the Law.com article “Labor of Law: Giving Trump the Middle Finger: Protected Speech?” This article discusses the case of a Virginia marketing analyst who lost her job with a federal contractor after she was photographed extending her middle finger at President Trump’s motorcade last year. After she filed a lawsuit for wrongful termination, the Virginia court sided with her former employer.
Employers across various industries are having difficulty understanding speech protections in the workplace. Wendy, who is tracking the tension between private conduct, social media and employer-employee rights, notes, “The intersection between social media and the workplace is changing the traditional calculus about what is protected speech. Everyone is walking around with a video camera. Something that once was purely private speech now has 1.5 million views.”
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