Mark Trapp Quoted in “First Amendment Rights in the Workplace: Issues for Employers”

Bloomberg BNA's Workforce Strategies

Mark Trapp, a Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment and Litigation practices, in the Chicago office, was quoted in an article titled "First Amendment Rights in the Workplace: Issues for Employers."

Following is an excerpt:

When it comes to employment in the private sector, individuals have no First Amendment rights that protect them from termination for unacceptable speech. Recent events in the national news—such as the controversy with A&E star Phil

Robertson of the television show ''Duck Dynasty,'' who was fired, then reinstated following controversial remarks he made about homosexuality and women—show what can happen when individuals are outspoken on controversial issues, such as religious beliefs or sexual orientation, in a way that their employers do not support. ?...

In managing free speech in the workplace, an employer has to determine where guaranteed free speech ends and harassment, discrimination and other forms of unprotected speech begin. ?...

According to attorney Mark Trapp, a member of the Labor and Employment and Litigation practices for Epstein Becker Green's Chicago office, navigating the line between free speech and offensive language or behavior is tricky. Trapp cited examples of an individual who displays a confederate flag in his or her cubicle or office, an employee with a political bumper sticker on his or her car, or someone with a lewd tattoo. Depending on the behavior of the employee, these situations could result in allegations of racial harassment, national origin harassment or sexual harassment, Trapp said.