ERIC Number: ED199773
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Mar
Reference Count: 0
Constitutional Protection for Whistle Blowers: Has the First Amendment Called in Sick?
Free speech for the public employee is much more limited than free speech in the society at large. The courts have been unwilling to extend free speech protection carte blanche and have instead cautiously attempted to define what speech would be allowed or prohibited in public organizations. This approach is illustrated in four areas of court concern: (1) the controversy between internal versus external communication, (2) the establishment of criteria to distinguish protected from unprotected speech, (3) the scrutiny of organizational regulations, and (4) the case of organizational members refusing to participate in certain activities. Regardless of what free speech protections are available to an employee, they are only as good as the employee's ability to press a free speech claim. Two practical problems are involved in this: lack of due process hearings and the complexity of organizational punishments. It is clear, then, that while the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution may offer some protection for the outspoken employee, that employee must fight hard for the protection. If protecting whistle blowers is an important goal of society, then alternative legal strategies should be considered. One such strategy might be a specific contract with free speech provisions clearly stated. Another, and more promising strategy, is statutory protection. (FL)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Whistle Blowing
Note: Paper presented at the combined Annual Meeting of the Popular Culture Association and the American Culture Association (Cincinnati, OH, March 1981).