Worker Not Protected Under First Amendment

(CN) – A New York state toll road employee who said she was demoted for relaying a subordinate’s concern that other employees were selling bootleg DVDs at work is not protected under the First Amendment, the 2nd Circuit ruled.



     Florence Huth, an employee of the New York State Thruway Authority, told her supervisors about the alleged DVD sales at routine work meetings, so the statements were made as part of her official duties and did not qualify as speech protected from retaliation by the First Amendment, the appeals court ruled in reversing a district court decision.
     Huth filed suit against her coworkers alleging that they violated her First Amendment rights by disciplining her in retaliation for reporting the alleged illicit DVD sales and for filing a lawsuit against them.
     But Huth expressed her concerns about the employees’ actions in meetings where employees specifically were discussed, the ruling states.
     “As a result, Huth’s claim that defendants retaliated (against) her for voicing concerns about the conduct of coworkers is without merit,” Judge Jose Cabranes wrote.
     Huth’s lawsuit did not qualify as speech “on a matter of public concern,” the Manhattan-based appeals court ruled. Huth’s claims were personal and she was seeking monetary and punitive damages, the ruling states.

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