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LCW Wins Dismissal Of A First Amendment Retaliation Lawsuit
LCW Partner Morin Jacob led a team to win the dismissal of a lawsuit against a county before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In this case, a variety of county employees were disciplined after speaking ill of certain supervisors and co-workers. These employees, once disciplined, alleged that they were being retaliated against for exercising their First Amendment rights. LCW had already won the dismissal of the suit at the trial court level, but the employees appealed the ruling to the Ninth Circuit.
The employees had: 1) disparaged other employees at a training the county had run; 2) disparaged their supervisors at various meetings; and 3) refused to amend a performance review in defiance of their supervisor’s order. It is important to note that the employee’s speech related, too, and occurred because of, their official duties as county employees. The employees “spoke” as public employees, so their speech did not have First Amendment protection.
This victory showcases LCW’s work at the appellate level of the U.S. judicial system and provides a useful reminder of the framework for analyzing First Amendment claims. If employees’ speech is related to or occurred because of their official duties as public employees, then the speech is not protected by the First Amendment.