PA Supreme Court Says State Can Fire Employee for Facebook Post

May 21, 2020

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has determined that a state agency can fire an employee for a post to a private Facebook group. In weighing the state’s interests against the employee’s speech interests, the court in Carr v. Department of Transportation ignored the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Packingham v. North Carolina, which called social media “the modern public square.” In an amicus brief, EPIC urged the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to protect the right of public employees to speak on matters of public concern on social media without fear of dismissal, citing to Packingham. EPIC warned that "allowing the Government to fire a public employee for posts made in a private Facebook group would encourage government supervisors to surveil employees across social media." EPIC has frequently argued that the First Amendment protects the right of individuals to engage in activities free from government surveillance, in cases including City of Los Angeles v. Patel, Doe v. Reed, and Americans for Prosperity v. Becerra.

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