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Journal of Law and Policy

Authors

Anne Carey

First Page

637

Abstract

As the political climate in the United States becomes increasingly divided, more and more employees are fired for their off-duty political speech. Political speech is highly protected from government interference under the First Amendment, but it is not well protected from discrimination in employment matters. This is despite the fact that employers can be just as powerful and influential as the government. Although employee political speech is not currently protected at the federal level, there are a myriad of state statutes that protect employee speech from employer retaliation. Some of these state statutes protect speech on a broader level, others protect only political speech, and some states do not protect any employee speech from retaliation. Because state statutes can vary so widely, a comprehensive federal statute protecting off-duty political speech (that includes a framework for addressing speech made on social media) is a better approach to protecting employee speech. This Note proposes the inclusion of political ideology and speech as a limited protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to protect applicants and employees from discrimination based on their off-duty political speech.

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