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Does free speech extend to the workplace in the private sector?

You have been told you have a right to free speech your entire life. When you use it at work and it conflicts with your boss, though, you get fired.

You feel like it’s unfair. Is it a wrongful termination? Have they violated your rights? Is it an illegal retaliation by your employer?

It’s not. The right to free speech is guaranteed by the Constitution, but that protection merely extends to the government. They can’t pass a law restricting your rights and then arrest you for breaking it. You’re allowed to speak your mind.

That does not mean that doing so carries no ramifications. If what you say upsets your boss, they can fire you. Unless you have an employment contract giving you extra protections, they can probably fire you on the spot. That’s legal.

In fact, your employer can restrict your speech in many ways while you’re on the job. For instance, they could have a policy that prevents you from using any sort of profanity, in an effort to create a family-friendly atmosphere. If you break that policy, they can fire you.

You still have freedom of speech. No one is saying you can’t use profanity or say anything you want. You can. It just comes with consequences, and one of them could be losing your job.

People often make mistakes regarding what their rights actually are and when a firing is illegal. It is important to know how this process really works. If you do get fired for an illegal reason — because you convert to a new religion, for instance — then you have to know what legal options you have.

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