Private Employees' Speech and Political Activity: Statutory Protection against Employer Retaliation

Posted: 13 Nov 2012 Last revised: 30 Nov 2012

Eugene Volokh

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

Date Written: April 2, 2012

Abstract

About half of Americans live in jurisdictions that protect some private employee speech or political activity from employer retaliation. Some of these jurisdictions protect employee speech generally. Others protect only employee speech on political topics. Still others protect only particular electoral activities such as endorsing or campaigning for a party, signing an initiative or referendum petition, or giving a political contribution.

Moreover, though the matter is not clear, federal law may often protect private employees who speak out in favor of a federal candidate. To my knowledge, these state and federal protections -- the first of which date back to 1868 -- have not been systematically cataloged, and some have never been cited in a law review article.

I am not sure such restrictions on private employers are a good idea. But whether the statutes are sound or not, they strike me as worth investigating. I therefore thought it would be useful to publish a list of the statutes that I could find and a summary of some of the key court decisions interpreting those statutes.

Keywords: First Amendment, Freedom of Speech, Antidiscrimination Law, Employee Rights, Election Law

Suggested Citation

Volokh, Eugene, Private Employees' Speech and Political Activity: Statutory Protection against Employer Retaliation (April 2, 2012). Texas Review of Law & Politics, Vol. 16, No. 295, 2012; UCLA School of Law Research Paper No. 12-27. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2174776

Eugene Volokh (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States
310-206-3926 (Phone)
310-206-6489 (Fax)

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