Employee Discipline in the Age of COVID-19

The New York State Association of School Attorneys (NYSASA) December 21, 2020 "On Board" Article "Employee discipline in the age of COVID-19" contained the following contribution by Honeywell Law Firm, PLLC Managing Shareholder, Jeffrey Honeywell, Esq.

Masks, messaging and discipline:

The issue of political and social “messaging” either on masks or in some fashion in a teacher’s room or virtual classroom has been an extremely hot topic of conversation since the beginning of school. What can be regulated by the school district and what kinds of behavior can be subject to discipline requires an in-depth analysis under the First Amendment, and the factors that come into play are beyond the scope of this article. However, school officials should remember that they have to provide an equal opportunity for whatever “messaging” they may choose to permit in their school district to avoid a claim of content-based discrimination. For example, if a district chooses to permit a “Black Lives Matter” messaging on a mask or otherwise, then it would be well-advised not to prohibit a “Blue Lives Matter” messaging in similar circumstances – and vice versa. This particular subject area is so complicated and dependent on individual factual circumstances in each school district, any superintendent or building administrator is strongly encouraged to consult with their school counsel before imposing any discipline or even counseling an employee concerning messaging. The risk of finding yourself the subject of a federal lawsuit for violating the civil rights of an employee or student is simply too great to proceed without appropriate legal consultation.

To read the entire article visit: https://www.nyssba.org/