Tuesday, January 30, 2007

It is the Ceballos of Times

Scales_17 Here's an appellate case from Michael Fox at Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer that illustrates the continuing impact that the recent Supreme Court case of Garcetti v. Ceballos is having on public employee rights.  Recall that Ceballos holds that public employees enjoy no First Amendment rights when speaking pursuant to their official duties.

Here's some excerpts from Michael's post:

Last week, the police officer primarily responsible for establishing the canine handling unit for Circleville, Ohio, found out just what those restrictions were about. Although he had successfully prevailed against defendants' motion for summary judgment in the district court, he had that victory taken away at the appellate level based in part on Garcetti.

What Officer Haynes viewed as public speech . . . to the 6th Circuit was nothing more than the “the quintessential employee beef: management has acted incompetently.” . . . . And employee beefs, legitimate or not, are no longer (if they ever were) the grist of successful 1st amendment claims.

Unlike Michael, I believe that such "employee beefs" should be a matter of First Amendment concern if the employee is speaking out on a matter of public concern and his or her speech rights do not substantially interfere with the government employer's efficiency interests (i.e., don't substantially disrupt the workplace).  Indeed, this is exactly why this plaintiff initially survived summary judgment at the district court level.   

A citizen does not cease being a citizen just because during part of the day that person performs work for the government. Langdellian formalism notwithstanding, Ceballos' pigeon-holing of citizen-employees as merely employees is inconsistent with how most employees view themselves and with the reality of the workplace.

The case is Haynes v. City of Circleville, Ohio, No. 06-3070 (6th Cir. Jan. 25, 2007).



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At Workplace Prof Blog, Paul Secunda highlights how last term's ruling in Garcetti v. Ceballos has affected subsequent lower court rulings in this post. Here, at TaxProf Blog, Paul Caron has posted all of the cert. papers in two tax... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 30, 2007 2:46:32 PM


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