Local Employment Law Blogger Sounds Alarm on Bill that would Protect Employees’ Opinions

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Daniel Schwartz, a prominent blogger who represents Connecticut companies in labor cases, is asking his readers to lobby the legislature against a bill that would protect employees who express their opinions about things going on at their work.

Schwartz says if the bill became law, it would protect insubordination by employees.

The legislative language does say the First Amendment protections don’t include comments that “substantially or materially interfere with the employee’s bona fide job performance or the working relationship between the employee and the employer,” but Schwartz is worried that every workplace dispute would become lawsuit worthy.

He represented a medical testing lab that had been sued by a doctor who refused to use certain diagnostic codes, because he believed it compromised patient safety. The doctor won a $10 million verdict, but the Connecticut Supreme Court overruled it last year. If this bill became law, essentially the statehouse would overrule that precedent, Schwartz says.

“Suppose that [a hospital] has three doctors on staff who disagree about a new medicine that could cure cancer. Two doctors say the benefits outweigh the risks, but one disagrees and refuses to work on that medicine. The employer decides to go with the majority. Can the employee file a lawsuit?

“Why are the free speech rights of one doctor more important than the other two?”

 

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