Cafeteria Workers Punished for Facebook Postings Sue Brownsburg Schools

Affiliate: ACLU of Indiana
October 20, 2015 2:00 pm

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Indianapolis – Two cafeteria workers employed by Brownsburg Community School Corporation filed suit yesterday to challenge disciplinary actions taken by the school to punish them for opinions expressed on Facebook and to stop the school from enforcing its social media policy. The school’s policy and its enforcement of that policy violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana brought suit on behalf of Tina Gracey and Brenda Farnsworth, cafeteria workers who joined a Facebook group called “Brownsburg Residents for Fiscal Responsibility” to advocate against building referendums that were ultimately defeated at the May 2015 election. Both women were given written reprimands by the school corporation and informed that they would be subject to termination if they continued to post their opinions to online forums. Their comments were all made and posted on their own time and from their own electronic devices.

The lawsuit seeks to have the reprimands of the women expunged, and to stop the school from enforcing its social media policy.

“There is no justification for the school corporation’s attempts to silence its workers’ speech on issues of public interest and concern,” said Gavin Rose, ACLU of Indiana senior staff attorney. “The First Amendment protects everyone’s right to express their opinions, and online forums are a means of such expression.”

The case, Gracey et al v. Brownsburg Community School Corporation, 1:15-cv-01647-RLY-DKL, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, on October 19, 2015.

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