Stokes v. City of Mount Vernon: Garcetti Revisited

I keep meaning to blog about a recent decision that came down in the Southern District of New York concerning a public employee’s free speech rights under the First Amendment, but Wait a Second beat me to the punch.

I wrote previously about how a Supreme Court decision dramatically curtailed the free speech protections of public employees, resulting in some odd incentives. In the case at hand, the question concerns the legality of retaliation by a government entity that does not have a direct employer-employee relationship with the person whose speech is in question. As Wait a Second writes:

What is remarkable is Judge Briccetti’s finding that Stokes may pursue his First Amendment claim against members of the City Council because they do not have employment authority over Stokes. Members of the council belong the legislative branch; it is the executive branch, the mayor to be exact, which can appoint and remove the Inspector General. The councilmembers are not Stokes’ employer. This is an issue of first impression in the Second Circuit.

Indeed it is, and as my firm and I represent the plaintiff in Stokes, few could be more Stoked (yuk yuk) than myself at the District Court opinion.

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