Free speech at work: Folau, Banerji and beyond?
The ability of employees to speak freely, both in public and private sector contexts, is increasingly being challenged. In 2019, the High Court of Australia endorsed the validity of the Department of Immigration’s termination of a public servant for her anonymous tweets. Until a recent settlement, the Federal Circuit Court was hearing Israel Folau’s challenge to his dismissal by Rugby Australia over controversial social media posts. These cases give rise to complex and often unsettled legal questions, at the intersection of employment law, constitutional law and anti-discrimination law. As the distinction between at-work and off-duty continues to blur in modern workplaces, it is unlikely these challenges will fade.
Where should the lines be drawn? Is it possible to reconcile employees' speech rights with the interests of employers? These events will consider these issues from practical, theoretical, policy and comparative perspectives.
Virtual panel discussion (free event)
ANU Law will host a virtual panel discussion on the topic of free speech in the work place in lieu of the previously scheduled event on 15 May.
Join Josh Bornstein, Maurice Blackburn; Kate Eastman SC, New Chambers; Distinguished Professor Adrienne Stone, The University of Melbourne; and Professor Andrew Podger AO, The Australian National University, as they debate these topical issues. The panel will be moderated by Kieran Pender, International Bar Association and ANU College of Law.
Conference (paid event)
This event will kick off with a session exploring the context surrounding the vexing issue of workplace-related speech. Throughout the morning, our expert panels will delve into the constitutional and practical implications of recent court judgments for both the public and private sectors. After lunch, our international speakers will provide insight into how different jurisdictions have grappled with free speech issues and the outcomes of these cases. Our final panel of the day will look to the future and reflect on how parliament, government, employers and the judiciary might seek to resolve the tension between employer interests and employee speech.
A full list of speakers and session content will be released at a later stage.