1st Amendment Rights vs. employment and school

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - If you attend an incendiary rally like the one in Charlottesville, Virginia this last weekend, in these times of social media, you would be a bit naive to believe your picture won't end up somewhere for all to see.

Photo: MGN

Or so says Gi Woong Yun, director of the Center for Advanced Media Studies at the Reynolds School of Journalism.

“Probably within 3 seconds you are already famous. And when you are famous like that fast, there are always consequences. Maybe possibly make a lot of money from the positive perspective, but also you can get a death threat,” says Professor Yun.

And it didn't take long for someone to set up a Twitter account titled "Yes, You're a Racist," identifying UNR student Peter Cvjetanovic as a rally attendee, along with Cole White. According to the site, White was fired from his restaurant job as a result of his participation in the rally.

Approximately four other people are identified on the site, and "Yes, You're a Racist" is asking for more pictures and names.

Could someone lose a job or place in school for exercising the right to free speech? One attorney we talked to says in Nevada and California, employees are at will.

“If an employer has a problem with hate speech or white supremacy rallies that the employee attended, then they can certainly fire them, and they don't have to say why,” says Ken McKenna, a Reno attorney.

As far as a public school student?

“The student code of conduct… a university could determine a student attending a white supremacist rally is hate conduct and could be expelled for that,” says McKenna.

What action can the person take who is the subject of a twitter site like "Yes you're a Racist"? Professor Yun says if you can't afford a company to help settle the waters...

“One of the best ways to approach is be honest,” says Prof. Yun.

By all accounts Peter Cvjetanovic has been honest. In a recent interview with KOLO he said he “wants to honor white culture in all its goods and bads, and I thought Robert Lee was a great example.”