Monday, October 09, 2017

Jemele Hill case: should private companies discipline employees for off-the-job social media speech on their own accounts?

Jemele Hill has been suspended by ESPN for two weeks for a second violation of its social media guidelines.  She issued some tweets critical of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for taking a hard line against his players protesting police profiling by kneeling during the national anthem at NFL games.

ESPN has apparently warned associates about social media speech, even off the job, that could reflect poorly on ESPN or drive away advertisers.  

CNN has the story here.

In September ESPN had threatened to discipline or fire Jemele for calling Donald Trump a “white supremacist.”  But Sports Illustrated provided an article saying that Connecticut law provides that even private employers may not discipline associates for constitutionally protected speech.

That’s unusual.  When I was working for a company that sold life insurance to military officers, I transferred to another division and moved within the company to avoid what was perceived as a conflict of interest when I was intending to publish a book on gays in the military. 

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