Public Employee Did Not Have Right to Download or Watch Pornography in the Workplace

In Weslowski v. Zugibe, 96 F. Supp. 3d 308 (S.D.N.Y. 2015) aff’d, 626 F. App’x 20 (2d Cir. 2015), the court dismissed the wrongful termination complaint filed by an Assistant District Attorney.

Among other things, the court unsurprisingly held that public employees do not have a right to watch pornography in the workplace. As to plaintiff’s so-called “Decisional Autonomy/Liberty” Claim, the court (citing Garcetti v. Ceballos)¬†explained:

[T]he constitutional protections that apply in the privacy of one’s home do not necessarily extend to the workplace. Indeed, [w]hen a citizen enters government service, the citizen by necessity must accept certain limitations on his or her freedom. Government employers … need a significant degree of control over their employees’ … actions; without it, there would be little chance for the efficient provision of public services. Accordingly, the Court finds that [the Supreme Court’s decision in] Lawrence [v. Texas] does not create a right, distinct from Plaintiff’s First Amendment rights that the Court has already considered, to access sexually explicit material while at work. To be blunt, Plaintiff has cited no authority to support his claimed right to download or watch pornography in the workplace.

Unless your job literally entails watching/downloading pornography at work¬†– e.g., if you’re a pornographic film critic – such conduct is, to put it mildly, generally frowned upon and is (as here) likely to have negative employment consequences.

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