Court: NYC can’t keep employees from talking to reporters

Friday, March 20, 1998

NEW YORK (AP) — A city prohibition on social services workers talking with reporters without permission has been ruled unconstitutional.

A panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan voted unanimously March 19 to uphold a lower court ruling that city regulations were “unconstitutional infringements on the First Amendment rights of city employees,” The New York Times reported today.

The case stemmed from a lawsuit filed on behalf of Rosalie Harman, a child welfare worker who was suspended after she discussed her agency on an ABC news program in 1995, shortly after the death of 6-year-old Elisa Izquierdo, the newspaper said.

The city said Harman had violated a policy barring employees of the Human Resources Administration and the Administration for Children’s Services from discussing nonconfidential agency matters without approval.

Judge James Oakes wrote the decision, joined by Judges Fred Parker and Reena Raggi, The Times reported.