06 November 2010

MSNBC asserts its droit de seigneur.

When did our employers achieve the right to dictate what we do off-the-clock?

I understand that a company that depends on the public goodwill and trust of certain "face of the organization" employees might reasonably expect such employees to comport themselves lawfully and even within certain moral boundaries at all times. However, a contractual provision that purports to require any employee to obtain their employer's approval to exercise their First Amendment right to political expression could by extension evolve into a contractual provision that requires employees to obtain approval to vote in a certain way, or even to vote at all.

Contractual provisions are ultimately void and unenforceable if a judge refuses to allow the state to enforce them.* It's utterly irrelevant that every party knowingly and enthusiastically agreed with the specific terms at signing. Enforcing MSNBC's contract would compel the government to infringe on Mr. Olberman's First Amendment rights, and this it cannot do.

Honestly, I hope Olberman sues the living shit out of MSNBC.

I would.

(* In Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1 (1948), SCOTUS held that a provision in real estate contract that purported to exclude any buyer "of the negro or mongolian race" was not in itself unconstitutional because it was a private agreement and there was no state action; however, it would be unconstitutional for the state to enforce such provisions because enforcement would be state action that violates the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause. For all I know, a racially restrictive covenant may still cling to that deed, but it does so without legal effect.)

0 chimed in: