Legal Principle at Issue
Whether a public employee forfeits his or her 1st Amendment protection against governmental abridgment of freedom of speech when he arranges to communicate privately with his employer rather than to express his views publicly.
Vacated and remanded for further proceedings. A public employee cannot be fired solely for private expression of views on matters of public concern.
After schools were ordered to be desegregated, an African American school teacher complained frequently to the principal that her students, who were still predominantly black, were not being provided fundamental resources as compared to other classes and schools. At the end of the year, she was told that her teaching contract would not be renewed because of her refusal to cooperate with the administration and her “antagonistic and hostile attitude” throughout the school year.
Importance of Case
The Free Speech Clause of the 1st Amendment protects the private expression of one’s views on matters of public concern. A public school teacher could not be fired for expressing these views.