Did Your Political Opinion Get You Fired?
First Amendment rights continue to be an essential pillar of what makes the United States a free country. Not only does this amendment protect your rights in a public setting—it also protects you in employment settings as well. Political discrimination in work settings has been on the rise as social media gains traction and privacy continues to diminish. In order to bring a claim of First Amendment work place political discrimination, you must be able to show: 1) that the plaintiff’s conduct is constitutionally protected; and 2) that the protected conduct was a motivating factor in the employer’s actions. Bisluk v. Hamer, 800 F.3d 928, 933 (7th Cir. 2015). For example, in Daza v. Indiana, No. 18-3102 (7th Cir. 2019), Daza brought a claim that he was wrongfully terminated based on his political agenda. He had reason to believe that he was discriminated against because a) he defended a coworker who posted about his Democratic views on Facebook, b) his mother wrote a letter to the town’s newspaper highlighting political discrimination in Daza’s work place, and c) his status as a Democrat. Id. However, the Court did not agree with Daza as his reasons do not rise to the level of political discrimination. Although his political status as a Democrat is a constitutionally protected right, he was unable to prove that it was because of this status that he was fired as the events that took place happened within a four year time span. The facts show that his employer found Daza to be hard to work with and his attitude very arrogant. He also made offensive commentary during a training session. He had a series of complaints against him to Human Resources from many of his colleagues. For these reasons, the Court did not agree that he was being discriminated against. Id.
In order to prove that a protected conduct was a motivating factor in the employer’s action, you must demonstrate a causal connection between the conduct and the employer’s action. Furthermore, you must also prove that your employer was aware of your protected right. For example, in the case above, if you change the facts along the lines of a) all events occurring within the same month, b) the employer admitting his knowledge of Daza’s political affiliation, and c) other employees with similar political affiliation as Daza, then this could possibly be a discrimination case in favor of Daza.
If you are an employee and you feel that you have been discriminated against based on your political affiliation, please contact the employment attorneys at Jafari Law Group, Inc. for a free consultation of this and other protected First Amendment Rights.