After amending his Complaint five times, the District? Court? dismissed? Plaintiff?s? allegation that he was wrongfully discharged in retaliation for protected expression under the First Amendment ?to ?the ?United? States ?Constitution. The Ninth Circuit affirmed.
Plaintiff was hired by the City of San Francisco as a ?survey assistant.??? He was employed as a temporary exempt employee rather than as a permanent civil service employee. Turner alleged that? his? employers? engaged? in? a? scheme? to subvert the City Charter, which authorizes the hiring of temporary employees only for special projects or professional services with limited funding. ?Turner alleges that, in violation of the Charter, he worked on many core department tasks, and was given extra responsibility that was incongruent?? with?? his?? compensation.?? Turner alleges that this hiring scheme was part of a broader plan by the City to make money by overcharging the public for mapping fees, while underpaying staff. At staff meetings, union meetings, and face-to- face? ?meetings,? ?Turner? ?began?? ?speaking? ?out against the practice? of using temporary exempt employees ?in violation of civil service rules.? He also?? repeatedly?? asserted?? that?? he?? and?? other temporary exempt employees were regularly assigned to work on matters inappropriate to someone in ?temporary exempt? status, and that his?? employers?? were?? well?? aware?? of?? Turner’s concerns.?? Turner?? continued?? to?? confront?? his employer with his allegations of illegality. ?He was thereafter terminated from employment.
After reciting the familiar applicable law for First Amendment employment claims, the Court directly addressed the ?public concern? component. ?In that regard, the Court inquired about ?why did the employee speak?? ?Does the speech ?seek to bring to light actual or potential wrongdoing or breach of public? ?trust,?? ?or? ?is? ?it? ?animated? ?instead? ?by ?dissatisfaction? with one’s employment situation?? The Court concluded that ?Turner’s complaints? while potentially significant in their implications? arose primarily out of concerns for his own professional advancement, and his dissatisfaction with his status as a temporary employee.? ?Such ?individual personnel disputes and grievances? are ?generally not of public concern.??
Turner v. City & Cty. of San Francisco, ?????????F.3d?????? ???(9th? Cir.? 6/11/15)? (M.D.? Smith,? Wallace, Friedland).