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Government employers: Slipshod investigation can sink defense in cases involving free speech

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Here’s a warning for public em­­ployers that want to discharge an employee for allegedly speaking out inappropriately: Make sure you conduct a thorough investigation that at least allows the employee a chance to defend his actions before you terminate him.

Otherwise, a shoddy investigation may be used against you.

Public employees who speak up on matters of public concern may be protected from employer retaliation if they spoke out in their role as private citizen. That protection doesn’t extend to speech that’s arguably part of their jobs. Employers can punish the employee in the second instance but not in the first.

Without an investigation, they may not know which circumstance they face.

Recent case: Christian was director of the art galleries at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacog­­doches. He received a telephone call from a member of the staff of Rep. Louie Gohmert, who represents Texas’s 1st Congressional Distr...(register to read more)

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