Posted by Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti, P.C. in News
Mar 13 2023
Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti, P.C. partner Josh Goodbaum was recently quoted in a Connecticut Law Tribune article about an alleged violation of Connecticut’s employee free speech statute. Former Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art employee Kate Riotte sued the museum, claiming that she was terminated for exercising her First Amendment right to free speech. You can read the full article here.
Represented by the Center for Individual Rights, Riotte alleges that she was fired for questioning her employer’s Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion efforts. Specifically, according to her complaint, Riotte asked, “Why is equity essential for the growth of the Wadsworth? I would think that striving for equity would be detrimental to the organization.” Riotte claims her termination violated § 31-51q of the Connecticut General Statutes, which applies the First Amendment to private employers.
As quoted in the article, Josh discusses restrictions on employee speech about issues involving race, saying: “I think there is an ongoing debate in this country about the role of race and employment decisions. Indeed, there’s a pending U.S. Supreme Court case [Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina] about the role of race in university admissions that might well inform how we think about the role of race in employment positions, particularly hiring.”
Josh added: “I think it’s fair to say that this is a matter of public concern, but just because an issue is a matter of public concern doesn’t mean that an employee is free to say anything they want about it in the workplace context.”