The Czech Supreme Court recently dealt with a case in which the employer dismissed a television reporter without notice after the employee gave an interview describing alleged television censorship. In the course of the interview the employee even compared the internal relations at the television station to a totalitarian regime.
The Court took the opportunity to give helpful guidance for the first time on the limits of employees’ free speech. Any criticism of an employer must be based on facts and avoid giving any misleading information aimed at defaming the employer. This also applies to employees who comment on matters of public interest as part of their job.
Any inappropriate and unjustified criticism may lead to termination of employment.
It is often difficult to evaluate whether certain employees’ conduct actually harms the employer’s legitimate business interests or reputation or whether it still remains within the limits of everyone’s constitutional right to free speech.
In this decision the Court made a distinction between legitimate criticism of the employer falling within the limits of an employee’s free speech and unjustified criticism which may have employment consequences.
Conclusions: With the growing number of social media platforms where anyone can express their views, employers are now more often confronted with employees freely sharing their views on internal employer’s matters to an unlimited number of followers.