Employees’ Conduct and Freedom of Speech

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Carl’s right to be a racist and not be terminated We live in the United States for a reason, and that reason is our freedom. We have many rights, which fall under the United States Constitution, which helps to protect our rights as U.S. citizens. Carl is a hard worker and it seems that he plays just as hard off duty as well. When Carl is off the clock he has a right to be a racist if that is what he chooses, and he is not breaking any laws. Carl states his group is always peaceful, they have fun, and they are not a violent group. Here is the reason that Carl had a right to talk to his employer the way he did, they were s violating his First Amendment rights, which guarantees him the freedom of “religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition or restrict their individual’s religious practices” (“First Amendment”, n.d., para. 1). Which also guarantees his “freedom of expressionby prohibiting Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely, and guarantees the right of citizens toassemble peaceably and to petition their government” (“First Amendment”, n.d., para. 1).Carl has done nothing wrong, unless his employer made his sign an off duty clause that forbids him from participation in these types of actions. Do I believe that what a public employee does in their free time should be of no concern to the public agency where they work? This question to me is not a yes or no question because. I believe that once you are a public employee that has “accepting public employment, you have foregone any privilege you may have had as private citizens” (Hudson, 2002, p. 8), for example, a police office, Prison guards and Administrations, Teacher, Judge, Public Defender, Prosecutor, Mayor, etc. Therefore, the public expect them to be on your best behavior always, because they are in the public eye. Also, some public agencies do have rules about off the job activities, which they can or cannot do on their own time, which might fall under there Ethical Conducts policy, for example “Activities you cannot engage in outside employment or any outside activity if it conflicts with your Government job, or if it could be prohibited by a law or regulation that applies to your agency, or it might present a conflict because the outside activity would disqualify you from performing a significant amount of your Government duties”(“Ethics-Outside Activities”, n.d., para. 1). Now, as stated before, I also believe that it should be no, because despite what we might think these individuals are humans as well and they will make mistakes publicly and at the worst time, but we as the lookers tend to forget that they are not perfect. There is only one perfect person, and he is in heaven, so why should we scrutinize them when they do something on there off time that we may not like? So for me, I am straddling the fence, and I can empathize with each side, but I cannot pick one side or the other because there are too many pros and cons arguments for this issue. So, public and government “entities have a constitutional right to privacy that protects them from most employer monitoring of, or even inquiring about, their off-the-job conduct, and therefore, public employees are largely protected from monitoring” (Guerin, n.d., para. 2). Also, there are several laws in the private sector, which prohibits their employers from meddling into their employees' personal lives off-duty from work. There are some states that even went as far as to make a constitution purposely that included an employee’s right to privacy, which would prevent their private employers from investigating their off-duty activity. Some of those “states, including California, which has laws prohibiting employers from taking any job-related action against a worker based on that worker's lawful conduct off the job” (Guerin, n.d., para. 3). Does Carl’s position or status or his activity influence my thinking? Carl’s work position did not change my opinion, neither of him nor what he does on his off duty time, nor influence my thinking. But, the things that upset me and made me agree more with Carl was the attitudes of Lisa, who was using company email to send information about Carl to other employees in their office, and that Angie decided to go on a fishing exposition by opening and following up the email about his off duty activity! If they did not entertain the idea, and it was not obvious before that he was a racist why should it matter now? Carl, seem to do his job, has always had a great performance review, and no complaints, so what he does on his off time is no one's business. Therefore, he was correct to state that, because he did nothing wrong on his job or off. I also did not like the fact that the Angie and Lisa are yelling derogatory comments about Carl by stating “she wants the bigot fired” for everyone to hear. That is very unprofessional and should never be done. They have just now created a very hostile environment for Carl to do his daily duties without other gossiping about him, or worst. If Carl was a police officer, would I think differently? Well, again, my answer would be yes and no. Here is why, I know a lot of police officers and some lawyers who are my associates. I know a few of them have color issues, matter of fact the African Americans and the Caucasian. I respect there feeling, as long as those feelings do not cross over into their jobs. I have experience that aspect, and it is not pretty. So, for me it would not matter that is Carl’s choice and one I need to respect. If I was Angie, how would I handle this situation? If I was Angie, I would keep my information to myself; because what he or she does on there off duty time is no one’s business. It amazes me how she came across this information, and why she chose to use it in this manner. They do not seem to have any bad history, but it does make me wonder if she too could be an undercover racist, and she just showed her true colors. Conclusion Carl is a racist and he is happy being one, but he is not happy that his employer is prying into his off duty life, and I agree with Carl’s feelings and his right to be who he wants to be off duty. His life never surfaced on his job, because he knew how to keep them separate. I wonder how many of us have activities that we would not like for our employers to know about, that we participate in on our off duty time? Carl is a hard worker and does his job efficiently. He never received a bad employee evaluation about his job performance. Carl is OK in my book, and his employer might want to discuss with their organization new rules about using company email for personal use on the job, and maybe even add a sensitivity class as well so that this will not happen again. References Ethics-Outside Activities (n.d.). Retrieved from http://energy.gov/hc/ethics-outside-activities First Amendment| Constitution | US Law | LII / Legal (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment Guerin, L.,J.D. (n.d.). Off-Duty Conduct and Employee Rights. Retrieved from http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/off-duty-conduct-employee-rights-33590.html Hudson, Jr., David (2002) p. 8. Balancing Act: Public Employees and Free Speech. Retrieved from http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/madison/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/FirstReport.PublicEmployees.pdf
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