E-Alerts & Press Releases

Employees Score Tremendous Victory in the Court of Appeals

March 17, 2009: Earlier this year, the PJC joined by the Maryland Employment Lawyers Association filed an amicus brief in the Maryland Court of Appeals case Newell v. Runnels.  No. 08-48, 2008 (Md.) The brief supported  two former employees of the State’s Attorney for Caroline County who sued the current State’s Attorney and the County for terminating their employment because they had engaged in political speech and campaigned for the County’s former State’s Attorney. The employees were represented by Thomas X. Glancy, Jr. of Gordon, Feinblatt, Rothman, Hoffberger and Hollander and the ACLU of Maryland.  The PJC’s amicus brief strongly supported the right of Maryland’s public employees to engage in the political process without fear of termination under the First Amendment and Article 40 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights.  The brief argued that by passing the Anti-Hatch Act, the General Assembly granted the employees of State and local governments the little qualified right to “freely participate in any political activity and express any political opinion.”
 
On March 13, 2009, the Court of Appeals delivered the employees and the PJC a tremendous victory. The Court nonetheless adopted a reading of the Act, argued by the employees' counsel and amicus, and held that the public employees may have claims against the State’s Attorney for illegal discharge because their termination for engaging in political speech violated the Anti-Hatch Act’s clear articulation of Maryland public policy.  This is a major victory both for public employees exercising their right to engage in free speech and for employees throughout Maryland who rely on the ability to bring an illegal discharge claim against employers who terminate them for engaging in activities protected by the General Assembly.
Read the Daily Record article featuring Thomas Glancy, PJC Board Member and attorney for the employees here.



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