Disruption To Workplace Trumps Worker’s Free Speech Right

A federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of a 9-1-1 dispatcher who repeated a racial slur in a social media post celebrating the 2016 election of GOP President Donald Trump.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati, OH, concluded the lower court judge gave too much weight to the dispatcher’s right to free speech and too little to the disruptive impact of her speech on her workplace.

Following a trial, a jury awarded the plaintiff, Danyelle E. Bennett, $6,500 in back pay and $18,750 for humiliation and embarrassment stemming from the incident.

Bennett was fired from her job after 16 years as a Nashville, TN, Metro 9-1-1 dispatcher after making an off-duty social media post from her home to her personal Facebook page. Bennett posted an electoral map showing Trump’s victory at 3 a.m. on election night.

Shortly thereafter, a man she did not know, Mohamed Aboulmaouahib, replied, “Redneck states for Trump, n****z and latinos states vote for hillary.” Bennett responded: “Thank god we have more America loving rednecks … Even n****z and latinos voted for Trump too.”

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