Select Page

In recent years, protests and demonstrations have become more prevalent in our society. They serve as a platform for individuals to voice their opinions and advocate for change. However, in some cases, these protests have led to individuals losing their jobs. This raises the question, is it legal to fire someone for participating in protests? In this article, we will explore the legal implications of firing an employee for their participation in protests.

The First Amendment

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the right to freedom of speech, assembly, and petition. This means that individuals have the right to express their opinions and peacefully protest without fear of retaliation from the government. However, this protection does not extend to private employers.

At-Will Employment

Most employment relationships in the United States are considered “at-will”, which means that either the employer or the employee can terminate the employment at any time, for any reason, or no reason at all. This means that, in most cases, employers have the right to terminate an employee for participating in protests, as long as it is not based on a protected characteristic.

Protected Characteristics

Protected characteristics include race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, and genetic information. It is illegal for an employer to terminate an employee based on these characteristics. Therefore, if an employee participates in a protest related to any of these characteristics, and is subsequently fired, they may have a legal claim for discrimination.


In addition to protected characteristics, there are also laws that protect employees from retaliation for engaging in certain activities. For example, the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects employees who engage in “concerted activities”, which includes peacefully protesting for better working conditions or wages. If an employee is terminated for participating in a protest related to their working conditions, they may have a legal claim for retaliation.


There are a few exceptions to the at-will employment rule. Some states have laws that protect employees from being terminated for engaging in lawful off-duty activities, including participating in protests. Additionally, if an employee has a contract or collective bargaining agreement that outlines specific reasons for termination, they may have protection from being fired for participating in protests.


In conclusion, it is generally legal for an employer to terminate an employee for participating in protests, as long as it is not based on a protected characteristic or activity. However, there are exceptions and laws in place to protect employees from being fired for exercising their rights to free speech and assembly. If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated for participating in a protest, it is important to consult with an experienced employment law attorney to discuss your legal options.

J. Horowitz
J. Horowitz

J. Horowitz leverages over two decades of experience as a seasoned employment law attorney in Arizona to offer insightful freelance writing on the same subject. After a successful career advocating for fairness and justice in the workplace, J. now dedicates his expertise to writing comprehensive articles, blog posts, and thought leadership pieces that illuminate the complexities of employment law.