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View Diary: Dangerous conditions & silenced nurses at Frist owned HCA hospital (127 comments)

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  •  re: Nurses not ALLOWED to speak out (1+ / 0-)
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    hmsjo wrote a diary that didn't get much attention, Rights in America? You must be joking?, but I thought it was an important topic.
    Apparently the Supreme Court decided yesterday (5-4) that an employee speaking out about things that are really work-related issues is not covered under Freedom of Speech at all times. In this case,

    "a supervising deputy district attorney was asked by defense counsel to review a case in which counsel claimed the affidavit police used to obtain a critical search warrant was inaccurate. [He concluded] after the review that the affidavit made serious misrepresentations...

    The whole thing is here, but it's a pdf file.

    The employee in this case "relayed his findings to his superiors," and followed up with the appropriate actions, a "memorandum recommending dismissal" of the case the warrant was for. They proceeded to prosecute the case anyway, and the employee did manage to "recount his observations" at a hearing, but the trial court rejected his challenge.
    Yes, it happens all the time that our superiors hear perfectly just complaints and then proceed to ignore them and go on with business as usual.
      THAT was not the problem, though. The problem was that the employee said he was ignored, transferred, and demoted due to his attempting to shine the light on what he said was a very wrong situation, and reviewing these questionable cases when they were brought to him was part of his job description as a supervisor.
      The court said: "Without a significant degree of control over it's employees' words and actions a government employer would have little chance to provide public services efficiently." The final answer:

    HELD: When public employees make statements pursuant to their official duties, They are not speaking as citizens for First Amendment purposes, and the Constitution does not insulate their communication from employer discipline.

    So, truth in government action can now be effectively snuffed under the guise of inter-office "efficiency" if the boss doesn't like what you have to say in your capacity as factual advisor. We are NOT talking about an employee supporting some odd political or other cause on his own time getting demoted because the boss doesn't like people who do that. In fact the case was pretty specific that this kind of speech IS protected against the whims of the employer. What is not protected, for example, is stuff like this:

    The Bush administration has shelved a report commissioned by the Treasury that shows the U.S. currently faces a future of chronic federal budget deficits totaling at least $44 trillion in current U.S. dollars.

    Editor's Note [from Truthout] Many financial experts have warned that the massive budget deficits described in the article below will bankrupt this country for the next 25 years. One must also ponder whether the drafting of this report was the main reason Paul O'Neill was removed as Treasury Secretary. - wrp

    This was a case about government employees, (and also the accuracy of search warrants, but that's still another story...) but I see it setting a terrible precedent, especially if we end up with government sponsored healthcare.

    ...learn something new every day...

    by nhwriter on Wed May 31, 2006 at 01:31:10 PM PDT

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