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While free speech issues for faculty are protected by relevant laws and institutional policies, they often fall within the scope of Academic Freedom. 

When is faculty speech protected?

View the flow chart

Step 1

Was the speaker acting pursuant to or in furtherance of his/her job duties?

Red icon No? 
Go to Step 2 

Green icon Yes? 
The speech is protected.

Step 2

Was the speaker commenting on a matter of inherent public interest?

Red icon No? 
Go to Step 3 

Green icon Yes? 
The speaker is acting in the capacity of a citizen.
Go to Step 4 

Step 3*

Was the speaker acting in his/her capacity as an employee?

Green icon No? 
Go to Step 4 

Red icon Yes? 
This is employee speech on a matter of private interest and is unprotected.

Step 4**

It is protected speech and you must ask the "Pickering-Connick questions." Unless you are able to show an adverse impact on institutional efficacy, then the speech in question cannot be the basis for an adverse employment action.

Questions to ask

Other considerations for faculty

Watt Lesley Black Jr., When Teachers Go Viral: Balancing Institutional Efficacy Against the First Amendment Rights of Public Educators in the Age of Facebook, 82 Mo. L. Rev. (2017)

Flowchart available at: