You get fired, and your boss tells you it was because of something you said at work. While you are a good employee in other regards — you do your actual job very well — they do not like what you had to say and they don’t want you in the workplace with the other employees.
You understand that some people may have been offended by what you said. Maybe it was inflammatory in nature, and you knew that at the time. But you also know that you have a right to freedom of speech, granted to you by the First Amendment. Doesn’t that mean you are protected? Isn’t it illegal for them to fire you based on what you said?
It is not. While you do technically have freedom of speech, that just means freedom from interference by the government. It does not mean the freedom to say anything you desire without consequences. If you’re at work, your employer can absolutely fire you based on what you said. Your right to free speech essentially just means that the government can’t arrest you and imprison you based on what you said.
Employers definitely have the right to terminate employees for many reasons, as long as they do not center around things like age, gender, religion or race. These are protected classes. If what you said created a toxic workplace or insulted another worker, for instance, they absolutely can let you go.
It is very important to understand your actual rights as an employee. If you do get fired illegally, then you need to know what legal steps to take.