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This paper examines the issue of the public sector employee’s rights to freedom of speech in the workplace. The most important cases discussed include the 1892 McAuliffe v. City of New Bedford decision, the landmark 1968 Pickering v. Board of Education decision, and the 1982 Connick v. Myers decision. The balancing standard set forth by Pickering is acknowledged as being still valid today. The influence of and tension between the inherently competing interests of the public, the public agency, and the public employee is acknowledged and discussed. Several court cases regarding the issue of free speech specifically within social services are briefly argued. Finally, the importance of a well-defined and reasonable communication and grievance procedure within the education and social services agencies is emphasized in providing this unique public workplace an environment, which minimizes the opportunity for conflict and litigation over the issue of free speech rights.

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