U.S. Judge Dismisses Free Speech/Free Press Claim

The Selection Officer for the SSA says one reason he didn’t hire the plaintiff (me) is because she (I) wrote an employment law blog on workplace abuse.

Chief U.S. District Judge Miranda Du of Nevada this week dismissed a claim in a lawsuit that I filed against the Social Security Administration (SSA), after it rejected me for a job for which I was superbly qualified in the aftermath of the Great Recession (2011).

A novice SSA Selection Officer said one reason he didn’t select me for hire was because he thought my fledgling employment law blog, When the Abuser Goes to Work, was a “red flag” and he was concerned I might one day question his management skills.

I began the blog as a public service in connection with my book, Surviving Bullies, Queen Bees & Psychopaths in the Workplace. The blog, syndicated by Newstek, is legally and unquestionably a work of journalism.

The shocking age discrimination I experienced when I applied for the SSA job in Reno, NV, in the waning days of the Great Recession, prompted me to research age discrimination and write my groundbreaking book, Betrayed: The Legalization of Age Discrimination in the Workplace.

A few tibits – 26 applicants (all but one under the age of 40) responded to a ridiculously narrow recruitment for five attorney vacancies. I found out about the vacancies by chance when I saw an announcement on USAJobs for a different job at the Reno office. The SSA repeatedly tried to hire five candidates under the age of 40 but was thwarted when candidates rejected job offers. The ninth selectee was the only other candidate over the age of 40 (a 47-year-old male).

The SSA says the candidates were hired based on “personality” and “cultural fit.”

In 2019, Judge Du dismissed the entire case, calling it futile, and issued her ruling with prejudice (barring me from refiling the case).

The Ninth Circuit

I filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, which in 2021 reinstated my claim of systemic age discrimination, finding it “plausible,” and remanded the case back to Judge Du.

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Can The Richest Man In the World Be Bullied?

Apparently, the richest man in the world is not exempt from bullying.

At least that is how Tesla CEO Elon Musk interprets a Feb. 7 subpoena from the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) seeking information about Musk’s compliance with a 2018 settlement that requires Musk’s tweets on “material information about the company” be vetted by company lawyers prior to posting.

Musk clearly has irritated the SEC and, more generally, the Biden administration by controversial opinions that seem to have little, if any, relationship to TESLA.

Freedom Convoy

Musk has exercised what many would consider to be his First Amendment right to communicate with his 63 million followers on Twitter (twice as many as Pres. Biden).

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No Immunity For Officials Who Retaliated Against Police Capt’s Free Speech

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has ruled that a trio of Wood County, TX, officials must answer charges they conspired to retaliate against a police captain because he exercised his First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

The three-judge panel ruled 2-1 to deny qualified immunity to the defendants, local Judge Jeff Fletcher, Sheriff Tom Castloo and former District Attorney James Wheeler.

Quitman Police Department Captain Terry Bevill has charged the trio with conspiring to have him fired and arrested for agreeing to a lawyer’s request to sign an affidavit for a friend

Bevill signed the affidavit in his personal capacity to support a venue transfer for the criminal trial of former Wood County Jail Administrator David McGee. Bevill said McGee would not get a fair trial in the county for facilitating the escape of an inmate and tampering with government documents because of the close personal relationship between Castloo, Wheeler and Fletcher.

The affidavit described Belvill “[a]s a longtime resident and law enforcement officer” who was “familiar with the local players and political climate.”

Castloo, Wheeler and Fletcher subsequently demanded Quitman Mayor David Dobbs fire Bevill, allegedly threatening to refuse to take future cases and to deny support for the police department. After pressure from Dobbs, Police Chief Kelly Cole fired Belvill on the grounds he violated a policy that bars police from interfering with courts.

Meanwhile, McGee’s case was not transferred and a jury found him guilty.

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What Does The Palin Verdict Really Mean?

Sarah Palin lost her libel trial against The New York Times on Tuesday but a question lingers about whether she was treated fairly.

Palin, a 2008 GOP candidate for vice president, is not beloved by the powers that be. She is a gun-toting hick from Alaska who is not well read and who makes hokie references to “hockey moms” and “lipstick on a pig.” Palin, a former Alaska governor, is especially loathed by Harvard grads and urban elites.

Still, the beauty of the American justice system is that even the most despised are entitled to basic fairness and justice under the law.

It rankles that U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff, 78, the semi-retired judge who presided over the trial, announced Monday that Palin had not met the high standard for malice to prevail in the case. He said he would dismiss the case regardless of the jury’s verdict.

The jury was deliberating at the time. Reuters reported Wednesday that jurors received phone notifications that the judge had decided to dismiss the case regardless of their verdict. Clearly Judge Rakoff’s pronouncement could have prejudiced the jury.

Timing Is Everything

It was Judge Rakoff’s job to tell the jury what the law is and the jury’s job to apply the law to the facts in the case.

The jury was in the process of deciding whether the NYT showed actual malice in 2017 when it published a preposterous allegation that a political ad by Palin’s political action committee incited the 2011 shooting of former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords and 18 others at a constituent meeting in Tucson. Indeed, the editorial said “the link to political incitement was clear.” The editorial was written by two NYT editorial writers and cleared by a NYT fact checker.

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The Historian Who Won’t Be Bullied

Americans should applaud Dr. Gordon S. Wood, perhaps the leading scholar of the founding of America.

Dr. Wood is one of a few historians who had the courage in 2019 to stand up and object when the NYT’s 1619 Project hijacked American history by claiming “nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional” flows from “slavery and the anti-black racism it required.”

Dr. Wood recently received the Philip Merrill Award for Outstanding Contributions to Liberal Arts Education from The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of academic excellence, academic freedom and accountability at America’s colleges and universities.

Dr. Wood argues that slavery was not a cause of the American Revolution, which was fought to advance principles like liberty, equality and the well-being of ordinary people. These principles, he adds, are “really the only things that hold us Americans together and make us a single people.”

ACTA lauded Dr. Wood’s six decades of scholarship on America’s founding that is “renowned for its meticulous accuracy and groundbreaking insight.”

Historically Inaccurate

In remarks accepting the ACTA award, Dr. Wood rejects the 1619 Project’s premise that colonists fought the American Revolution because Britain was threatening to abolish slavery.

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