Can a private company fire employees for exercising free speech? - KCTV5

Can a private company fire employees for exercising free speech? Yes.

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

More than 200 NFL players chose not to stand during the national anthem Sunday.

Players kneeling to raise awareness of social injustice is nothing new, but former Kansas City Chiefs player Shawn Barber thinks it’s the president's comments that sparked this widespread demonstration.

“The catalyst for everything this weekend was a response to the president singling out the NFL players and using derogatory language, singling them out as far as what he would do if he was the owner of the team,” said Barber.

President Donald Trump said NFL owners should fire players who refuse to stand during the national anthem, not because of their cause, but because of their approach.

“This has nothing to do with race or anything else. This has to do with respect for our country and respect for our flag,” said Trump.

KCTV5 spoke with long-time first amendment attorney William Raney. He said the NFL can fire them.

“It’s a decision of the employer and the NFL has obviously made a decision to support those employees, but that’s their business decision. It’s not a constitutional matter or a legal matter,” said Raney.

Raney said what the football players are doing is not an example of protected free speech because the NFL is a private company.

He said free speech rights apply for government employers or people speaking out in public places like a park or outside a courthouse, for example.

Copyright 2017 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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