Every right the U.S. Constitution actually gives you against your employer is protected in your place of employment.
There’s only one Constitutional right that meets that description.
If you will read the text of the U.S. Constitution, you will find exactly one provision that, by its own terms, applies directly to private actors.The only provision of the U.S. Constitution that governs the conduct of private actors is the Thirteenth Amendment, which provides: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude … shall exist within the United States.”
Your Constitutional right to be free from slavery is definitely protected in the workplace. If your employer enslaves you, it has committed a felony and is looking at a term of incarceration that could be up to 20 years.
But that’s it. The rest of the Constitution applies only to government entities.
Now, that doesn’t mean private actors are free to do whatever they want, free from government interference. There are plenty of statutes out there that prohibit private actors from engaging in certain conduct. But the only thing the Constitution itself prohibits your employer from doing is enslaving you.
Let’s take a look at some of the other Constitutional rights employees frequently believe they have vis-à-vis their employers.
Do you have a Constitutional right to free speech vis a vis your employer? Nope. Look at the First Amendment. By its own terms, it applies only to government actors.
Do you have a Constitutional right not to have your employer search your office? Your desk? Your computer? Nope. News flash: Your office, your desk, and your computer belong to the employer. When your employer conducts a search of “your” office, it is conducting a search of its own property.
Do you have a Constitutional right against self-incrimination in the workplace? Nope. Look at the Fifth Amendment. By its own terms, that provision applies only to criminal cases.
Do you have a Constitutional right to a fair process in your employer’s progressive discipline procedures? Nope. To be informed about what you were accused of? To be able to present your side of the case? Look at the Sixth Amendment. By its own terms, that provision applies only to criminal prosecutions.
When you read the actual text of these Constitutional amendments, it becomes clear that they don’t apply to your employer at all.
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