Derek Fenton v. New Jersey Transit Corporation

On November 5, 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against New Jersey Transit for violating the free speech rights of an employee. Derek Fenton, a New Jersey Transit employee, was fired on September 13, 2010 after he burned three pages of a Koran at a September 11, 2010 rally protesting a proposed Islamic community center in Lower Manhattan. Fenton attended the protest on his day off and did not identify himself as a transit employee. A newspaper photographer captured an image of Fenton burning the Koran and published it. New Jersey Transit offered no justification for the firing other than to say it violated the agency's "code of ethics." The ACLU of New Jersey filed suit on his behalf, explaining that New Jersey Transit's actions were illegal because the law prohibits public employers from engaging in constitutionally protected speech on matters of public concern in their personal capacities. The case was settled on April 21, 2011. Fenton was reinstated in his job and was able to receive back pay.

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