County Silences Employee Speech on ObamaCare Mishaps

pacific justice institute Press release about Employee Speech

San Jose, CA–Attorneys for a longtime Santa Clara County employee are demanding answers after she was told that a brief comment about the problems plaguing the ObamaCare rollout were not welcome in the workplace.

Norina Mooney has worked for Santa Clara County for more than twenty years.  Her role in the child support enforcement pision does not involve promotion of ObamaCare.  So when she made small talk with a co-worker about all the insurance policies being canceled due to ObamaCare, she was surprised to get called into a supervisor’s office.  Mooney was told that her comment had offended someone who overheard it (not the person to whom it was directed), and that she should go outside if she had anything controversial or political to say.  This came as a shock to Norina, especially since the office environment is replete with pro-Obama paraphernalia, and co-workers have even worn Obama campaign attire to work.  Apparently, only messages deemed to be critical of the President or his policies are not welcome in this county office.

PJI Staff Attorney Matthew McReynolds fired off a letter Nov. 8 to the County, warning them to discontinue their censorship of this employee’s speech.  An attorney for the County indicated the week before Thanksgiving that a response would be forthcoming, but none has been received by PJI.  “We warned the County that this type of censorship would spark public outrage if it were not immediately addressed,” McReynolds noted.  “Unfortunately, they do not yet seem to be taking seriously this obviously impermissible restriction on free speech.”

Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, commented, “Just when we thought the disastrous ObamaCare rollout couldn’t get much worse, the County of Santa Clara is compounding those problems by claiming that criticism is off-limits.  Liberals and conservatives alike should be able to agree that this type of censorship is chilling and unconstitutional.  This is a matter of intense public concern, and the last thing we can afford is the silencing of questions or criticism.”

Pacific Justice Institute is hopeful that the County will respond by Dec. 8, which will mark one month since PJI’s letter was sent.  If the County does not affirm public employees’ rights to comment on matters of public concern, PJI believes legal action would be fully justified.

Pacific Justice Institute is a non-profit legal organization dedicated to defending religious, parental, and other constitutional rights. 

P.O. Box 276600 Sacramento, CA 95827-6600
Phone: (916) 857-6900 Fax: (916) 857-6902