Any free speech issues? I covered a lot of this ground in an article regarding Phil Robertson (the Duck Dynasty guy) and his dust-up with A&E. In short, the First Amendment generally only applies to state actors. It has some teeth in the context of public employment... but not so much with ESPN.
|ESPN logo used in commentary|
But wait... ESPN is in Connecticut! Why does that matter? Because Connecticut has this law that prohibits "discipline or discharge" for exercising First Amendment rights, and it applies to private employers! However, that law comes with a pretty big caveat: "provided such activity does not substantially or materially interfere with the employee's bona fide job performance or the working relationship between the employee and the employer."
As my favorite Connecticut employment law blogger, Dan Schwartz, noted on Twitter:
Did Schilling's post address a matter of public concern? I think so - I mean, he specifically references "laws" and he's presumably referring to the public debate over North Carolina's bathroom law. Was he disrupting the workplace? I don't work there, so I don't know - seems at least plausible. We'll see how this plays out.Has to be an issue of public concern and can't disrupt workplace. Speech here arguably has issues with both. https://t.co/Zum1NIbn1Y— Dan Schwartz (@danielschwartz) April 21, 2016
Of course, these issues may also be addressed in an individual contract between the parties. Also, I suppose it's possible that Schilling is based somewhere else and is not covered by the CT law.