December 31, 2012
Employer-Limited Speech Not a First Amendment Violation, Appeals Court Says
Court: University of Toledo HR director's op-ed "contradicted the very policies that she was charged with creating, promoting, and enforcing."
A federal court has ruled that employers can hold employees accountable for their public speech—even when the speech relates to issues of public concern—upholding a lower court's ruling.
The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the University of Toledo, an Ohio public school that fired human resources director Crystal Dixon after she expressed views in a newspaper column that ran counter to university policies. The court held that Dixon's public speech was not protected by the First Amendment.
The case has been ongoing since 2008, after Dixon was fired from her position. Dixon wrote an opinion column against labeling homosexuals could be "civil rights victims," expressing her views as an African-American and Christian. However, those views contradicted the university's stance.
Earlier this year, an Ohio district court ruled that the university did not violate Dixon's free speech rights. Rather, the court found that, because of the nature of her position with the school, Dixon's op-ed was inhibiting the school's ability to carry out its work. The appeals court ruling affirmed this decision.
CT previously noted the district court's ruling in March.