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View Full Version : Legal Question: Media interviews by employees?


Mr. Kotter
03-22-2006, 10:31 PM
Lawyer types, or anyone else who thinks they can lend me any insight....

Can a school district legally impose a policy forbidding employees from being interviewed by the media? :spock:

That just doesn't seem to wash with me....yet our district's policy is precisely that: paraphrased, "employees may not be interviewed by the media unless they have received prior approval from the district offices...."

What do you think? :shrug:

Now, I know there could be political repurcussions, and they can make life difficult for you if you don't comply....however, I'm asking about the LEGALITY of it...

FTR, I'm not talking about speaking on behalf of the district, I'm only talking about being interviewed about a topic of local concern, and being identified as a school district employee....specifically stating "I am not speaking for the district, but...."

Can a school district forbid you from participating in that sort of an interview? :hmmm:

I say, legally, no. Am I right, or wrong? :shrug:

Thanks, in advance for your input.

Simplex3
03-22-2006, 10:40 PM
I think it should be illegal for anyone willing to interview you to have the piece put on the air. Problem solved.



:)

DenverChief
03-22-2006, 10:50 PM
Yah I think it is illegal ...the teacher who compared Bush to Hitler out here wanted to do a interview w/ the media and the School District informed him that he couldn't or he would be fired....he threatened lawsuit (under first amendment rights) and the school district caved

ChiefsFanatic
03-22-2006, 11:03 PM
Yes. Yes they can. So can any other employer.

DenverChief
03-23-2006, 12:01 AM
Yes. Yes they can. So can any other employer.

that is not part of a governmental agency...the school district board is an elected body subject to the rules of the constitution

Rausch
03-23-2006, 12:03 AM
You signed a contract.

Is that in the contract?

Did you read it?...

Mr. Kotter
03-23-2006, 05:22 AM
Yah I think it is illegal ...the teacher who compared Bush to Hitler out here wanted to do a interview w/ the media and the School District informed him that he couldn't or he would be fired....he threatened lawsuit (under first amendment rights) and the school district caved

That's my thought; I guess, we'll soon see. Thanks.



You signed a contract.

Is that in the contract?

Did you read it?...

It's not in the contract; it's in a policy adopted by the board--the same board which has had several policies over-turned in various litigation over the past 5-10 years.

Mr. Kotter
03-23-2006, 05:24 AM
Yes. Yes they can. So can any other employer.

First Amendment doesn't apply then???? :hmmm:

ChiefsFanatic
03-23-2006, 05:49 AM
First Amendment doesn't apply then???? :hmmm:

Having worked for an employer whose policy was that no employee, unless employed in public relations, was allowed to conduct media interviews, I can attest to their right to do so.

You may make statements to the media on things outside of the scope of your employment. Of course they can't stop you from doing that.

They also can't stop you from conducting interviews regarding your work or employer, but they can fire you for not following company policy.

This would not apply to the Whistleblower Act, though.

Amnorix
03-23-2006, 06:05 AM
Private school -- likely they could issue such an order and have it stick.

Public school -- can't see it. The school system is an agency of the local government, and therefore subject to the First Amendment through the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. Seems to me to be a violation of free speech, and therefore unenforcable.

Amnorix
03-23-2006, 06:07 AM
Having worked for an employer whose policy was that no employee, unless employed in public relations, was allowed to conduct media interviews, I can attest to their right to do so.


You are missing the point that the First Amendment prevents the government from impinging on free speech, unless there was some prevailing governmental interest (i.e. FBI, CIA, etc. can be told not to speak about pending cases, matters of national security, etc.)

Your employer was, presumably, not a governmental institution, and therefore was not subject to the First Amendment.

KCTitus
03-23-2006, 06:39 AM
Your employer was, presumably, not a governmental institution, and therefore was not subject to the First Amendment.

What he said...

Mr. Kotter
03-23-2006, 07:07 AM
....

You may make statements to the media on things outside of the scope of your employment. Of course they can't stop you from doing that...

THAT is the point; I'd be making statements as a parent and PTA President, but identified also as a school district employee.


Private school -- likely they could issue such an order and have it stick.

Public school -- can't see it. The school system is an agency of the local government, and therefore subject to the First Amendment through the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. Seems to me to be a violation of free speech, and therefore unenforcable.

Thanks, Amnorix. About what I thought. :thumb:

chiefqueen
03-23-2006, 08:31 AM
In my office us staff members can't talk to the press w/o the boss's permission.