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City Agrees To Rescind Employee Gag-Order Policies

Following litigation brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Bloomberg Administration has agreed to revoke City gag-order policies that have prohibited employees from talking to the press and the public about misconduct in City agencies. The City tomorrow will formally revoke two EMS gag-order policies and is expected shortly thereafter to revoke Fire Department and Correction Department policies. The City has further agreed to review the employee-speech policies of all other City agencies and to revoke those that are unlawful.

In two recent federal cases the NYCLU successfully challenged policies of the NYPD, the Child Welfare Administration, and the Human Resources Administration that prohibited city employees from publicly criticizing the actions of those City agencies. When the NYPD last week took the final step of revoking the gag-order policies struck down in the case against it, the NYCLU wrote to Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo and asked the Law Department to revoke similar policies covering employees of the EMS, the Fire Department, and the Correction Department. The NYCLU also called on the City to review the press and public-statement policies of all other City agencies. (A link to the letter is below.)

The City now has agreed to revoke the EMS, Fire Department, and Correction Department gag-order policies, with the EMS policy scheduled to be revoked tomorrow. The City has further agreed to review all other City press and public-statement policies and to revise or revoke them.

NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman hailed the City’s action: “We commend the Bloomberg Administration for recognizing that city employees have a First Amendment right to speak out about misconduct in City agencies.”

NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn, who was lead counsel for the NYCLU in the case against the Police Department, said, “The revocation of these policies will free tens of thousands of City employees to speak freely to the press and public about misconduct in City government. This move is good for City employees and is good for the public.” Click here to read the NYCLU’s letter.

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