9 Basic Teachers’ Rights and Employment Laws

If you’re a teacher, you know how your profession is exceptionally demanding, besides stressful and time-consuming. Today, teaching can be even more challenging than decades ago as discipline continues to be a problem. When confronting challenges that can affect the quality of your work performance, it’s important you know your rights as a teacher. Here are nine fundamental teachers’ rights and employment laws, along with the importance of having an employment lawyer fight for you.

1. FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

The U.S. Constitution gives you the right of Freedom of Expression, which is under the First Amendment. One example of Freedom of Expression is the right to personally express yourself, such as submitting editorial letters to newspapers.

Freedom of Expression also includes rights, such as academic and artistic expression. Even though you have academic freedom, there are restrictions, regarding the material you teach in your classroom. These limits include those, such as the age and experience of your students, in addition to your school’s academic curriculum.

2. FREEDOM OF SPEECH 

Under the First Amendment, you also have the right of Freedom of Speech. Of course, there are a few boundaries. Consider that Freedom of Speech doesn’t mean you can say whatever pops into your head and then claim First Amendment protection. Therefore, be careful what you state in public places and on social media platforms.

3. DUE PROCESS OF LAW 

Just as any public employee, you have the right to due process of law. For example, if you’re accused of doing something that could tarnish your reputation, the law gives you the right to defend yourself. Due process of law also entails property rights, including the right to a job. On the other hand, how much process that is due can vary, depending on the situation.

4. FREEDOM OF RELIGION 

As a public school teacher, you have the right known as Freedom of Religion to practice your faith. Again, there are restrictions. Even though you can be a practicing Christian and still teach, you’re not allowed to teach or promote your faith in a classroom. This right falls under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII).

5. FREEDOM FROM RACIAL, SEX AND ETHNIC DISCRIMINATION 

The Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause protects you as a teacher from discrimination because of your race, gender or national origin. What’s more, you have the right for protection from discrimination based on gender at educational institutions for receiving federal financial help.

6. FREEDOM TO JOIN ASSOCIATIONS AND ORGANIZATIONS 

This right, which also falls under the First Amendment, gives you the freedom to join associations, such as labor and professional organizations. Moreover, you have the freedom to run for a public office. Just be sure your activities and involvement with an association or organization are not linked with your school responsibilities.

7. CERTAIN PRIVACY RIGHTS 

You’re given certain privacy rights for leading your personal life. But you can lose your job or career if you’ve engaged in adultery or other types of sexual misconduct. This is particularly the case when sexual indiscretions involve a student. In fact, a Minnesota teacher’s certificate can be suspended or revoked for immoral actions or defective character.

8. PREGNANCY RIGHTS  

Until 1978, being pregnant could lead to failing to get a teaching position or mean job termination. Fortunately, today you cannot be demoted, terminated or denied a promotion based on pregnancy. This right is derived from the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978.

9. PROTECTION FROM AGE DISCRIMINATION 

If you’re over age 40 and are successfully fulfilling your duties as a teacher yet aren’t ready to retire, take heart. You can’t be dismissed because of your age. This is thanks to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

  • You have the same constitutional rights as any other American.
  • As a teacher, it’s critical you know your constitutional rights.
  • A criminal conviction is damaging to anyone.
  • It can be even more detrimental for teachers.

Are you an educator who’s a victim of discrimination, or have you been falsely accused of an action or crime? You don’t have to face false accusations alone. Philip G. Villaume, our founding attorney here at Villaume & Schiek, knows the issues confronting today’s teachers. He is known for his passion for defending teachers’ rights, both here in Minnesota and nationwide. Please contact us for a free consultation.


Disclaimer: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individualsituation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.