Government employees have limited First Amendment rights when speaking out. But the right doesn’t apply if the public employee is merely doing his or her job.
Recent case: Nina’s job involved assessing the performance of New York City schools. When a co-worker gave a school a poor rating, Nina protested that racism might have played a part in the ranking.
Soon, Nina was discharged. She sued, alleging that she was terminated in retaliation for speaking out.
The court dismissed her lawsuit. While Nina spoke out on a matter of public importance, thus making her speech partially protected, she still didn’t have a case because it was her job to assess schools. She therefore didn’t meet the second requirement—having to speak as an individual and not as part of her job. (Pitton v. New York City Department of Education, No. 15-CIV-1235, ED NY, 2015)