California State Senator Moves to Expand Protections for Workers’ First Amendment Rights; Declares California a “Free Speech State”

Legislation will respond to recent threats to the First Amendment rights of NFL Players, victims of sexual harassment and violence, conservative commentators, and other workers statewide.

October 20, 2017

SACRAMENTO – In response to recent attempts by the Trump Administration to bully NFL owners into firing athletes for speaking their minds while on the clock, as well as reports of potential threats to women courageously stepping forward in the workplace to share their personal experiences with sexual harassment and violence, California State Senator Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park) made the following announcement today:

“Freedom itself is at risk today. President Trump’s most recent attempt to pressure NFL owners to fire players for exercising their free speech rights while ‘at work’ (on the football field) is just one of many troubling attacks on the First Amendment in the last few months.

California should be a sanctuary for free speech.  In the upcoming legislative session I will be introducing legislation to deter employer retribution or retaliation against employees working in California for exercising their free speech rights, and to ensure that our public institutions have the resources they need to safely accommodate speech of all kinds, even those that offend our values.

When he knelt, Colin Kaepernick took on something much bigger than himself. It doesn’t matter if you’re Ben Shapiro speaking at UC Berkeley, a brave female employee standing up to misogyny in her workplace through the #MeToo movement, or a Dallas Cowboy playing in California this Sunday, the Constitution does not limit speech based on value judgments so long as it doesn’t harm others.

As the great Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once opined, ’we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe.’  Employers should not be able to retaliate against employees for exercising their constitutional rights. And, in turn, employers shouldn’t feel bullied by the President.  The Constitution trumps Trump.  Americans of all political stripes ought to stand up and defend it.”



Contact:      ​Phone: (805) 822-9694

 Henry Stern is Chair of the Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments, and the first millennial elected to the California State Senate. He represents nearly 1 million residents of the 27th Senate District, which includes Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, Malibu, Moorpark, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, part of Santa Clarita and the West San Fernando Valley.