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Worker Who Discussed Dogfighting Loses Appeal

(CN) - A veterinary board in Oklahoma had the right to fire an employee for discussing the investigation of a dogfighting ring, the 10th Circuit ruled.

Rajeanna Dixon worked as an investigative assistant for the Oklahoma Board of Veterinary and Medical Examiners (OBVME). She was fired for discussing the investigation of a dogfighting ring with a member of the veterinarian trade association.

Dixon's conversation with Dr. James Stock, her personal veterinarian, led to her firing. She told Stock that since no veterinarians were implicated in the dogfighting ring, the investigation was a waste of the OBVME's money.

Dixon sued supervisor Cathy Kirkpatrick for restraining her free speech. The district court denied Kirkpatrick's claim of qualified immunity, and the Denver-based federal appeals court reversed.

"An investigative agency is within its rights as an employer to discipline an employee with access to confidential materials for discussing details of an agency investigation with an outside party," Judge McConnell wrote.

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