42 U.S. Code § 1983 (Freedom of Speech – First Amendment) – Municipal Liability
Under the First Amendment, a public employee has a qualified right to speak on matters of public concern.
- A public employee has to be speaking as a citizen and not as part of his or her official duties.
- A public employee’s speech must be on a matter of public concern.
- In order to establish municipal liability, a public employee’s speech must result in an adverse employment action (harassment, denial of promotion, demotion, deprivation of benefits, suspension, termination, etc.).
Public employees have First Amendment protections. Pickering v. Board of Education, 391 U.S. 563 (1968)
“Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress…” 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Bryan A. Chapman, Esquire