Test Your HR Legal Knowledge: First Amendment
Whether “HR legal expert” is already on your list of mastered HR competencies or you’re working to get it there, here’s a real court case that will test your HR legal knowledge and risk management acumen on the First Amendment. Review the facts of the case, tell us which side you think prevailed, and find out if you’re right!
The Case: Campus Cop Love Triangle — Goff v. Kutztown University & Its Police Chief (E.D. Pa., 10/22/14)
- Plaintiff was a campus police officer at Kutztown University.
- Plaintiff received a distressed telephone call from a fellow campus police officer’s estranged wife (with whom he was romantically involved) stating that her estranged husband had threatened her with a gun and that she’d also received a text message from her son stating that his father was threatening her.
- In addition to the then current romantic involvement, the plaintiff had formerly been “best friends” with the estranged husband.
- Plaintiff called the state police, stating he was a campus police officer and wanted to alert them as a law enforcement officer of a matter of public concern — domestic violence — and then stated that the other campus police officer was threatening his estranged wife with a gun.
- Plaintiff did not mention that he was romantically involved with the alleged victim.
- Plaintiff was a probationary employee at the university.
- Plaintiff was discharged shortly after the incident for failure to adequately complete probation.
- Plaintiff sued claiming First Amendment retaliation of his right to speak out on a matter of public concern.
The Question: Is a campus policeman’s domestic violence call-in complaint to the state police accusing a fellow campus patrolman protected speech relating to a community concern (domestic violence) and therefore protected by the First Amendment and grounds for overturning his termination?
Interested in learning more about employment law or the First Amendment in the workplace? Check out these resources:
- Just the Facts: Key Course Decisions of 2014 e-learning course
- Employment Law: How Can HR Help Avoid Litigation?
- 10 Higher Ed Labor and Employment Court Cases You Need to Know About
- HR Risk Management – CUPA-HR Knowledge Center Toolkit
To explore the latest HR-related court cases and rulings, plan to join us for the Legal Update Super Session presented by CUPA-HR General Counsel Ira Shepard at the CUPA-HR Annual Conference and Expo 2015, September 27-29 in Orlando, Florida.