4th Circuit “likes” former employees’ free speech claims

Bland v. Roberts

Plaintiffs, former employees of the Hampton, Virginia sheriff’s office, were terminated after they “liked” the campaign Facebook page of a candidate who ran against the incumbent sheriff. The plaintiffs brought suit in 2009 after the incumbent was reelected, claiming that their First Amendment rights to freedom of association and freedom of speech were violated when they were not reappointed to their positions as sheriff’s deputies due to their alleged lack of political allegiance to the incumbent, and their speaking out in support of his challenger. The 4th Circuit held that the three deputies, who served as prison guards, established a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether their First Amendment rights had been violated and, as to those three plaintiffs, reversed summary judgment in favor of the sheriff.

Free association claims

Contributing Author

Courtney Saleski

Courtney Saleski is a partner at DLA Piper.

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