Philadelphia Employment Law News

Blogging Teacher Fired, Part 2: Retaliation

There are times when an employee notices that there is something wrong at their place of employment. Sometimes when this happens, the employee reports the problem. What next? The employee is fired, or demoted, or transferred to Siberia.

In the last post, we looked at blogging teacher Natalie Munroe's First Amendment claims. The other part of her wrongful discharge suit is based on the school's alleged retaliation by singling out of Munroe for special treatment that would assure her an unsatisfactory rating and the loss of her job, according to NBC10 Philadelphia. Let's take a deeper look at these allegations.

Munroe claims that she was allowed back after an initial suspension not solely because of her contract, but also so that the school could single her out for additional administrative observations, according to NBC10. She also claims that her lessons were deemed "unsatisfactory" even though they were the same as those taught for her prior 5 years at the school, and that she was then required to submit all her lesson plans in advance.

Retaliation claims are often related to the reporting of safety hazards or illegal conduct by the employer. However, they can be brought against any employer that negatively changes an employee's situation after the employee has stood up for their rights.

Here, Munroe's retaliation claim must be based on her First Amendment claims. Since she did not report any wrongdoing or was not denied a reasonable accommodation for a federally protected right, there is likely no other basis for an employer retaliation claim.

However, Munroe's evidence of her employer's retaliatory actions is probably enough to show that there was negative action against her. She can probably show that the 13 administrative observations were far more than other teachers, and that there were no other teachers whose students were given the option of not taking their class.

Also, she will likely be able to obtain evidence from the school that her lessons deemed unsatisfactory were indeed labeled satisfactory the year before.

Therefore, it is now up to Natalie Munroe and her attorney to show that she had a valid First Amendment right to be a blogging teacher.

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