Constitutional Rights: Constitutional and Administration Law

Korb v. Raytheon, 707 F. Supp. 63 (D. Mass) case involves an employee, Lawrence J. Korb and Raytheon Corporation the company. “Korb was terminated from his position as vice president for Washington operation of Raytheon Corporation because he publicly expressed opinions, which was a conflict of interest with the corporation’s economic concern” (http://www. loislaw. com. libdatab. strayer. edu/pns/index. htp). The case involves freedom of speech, information and challenges with the employment law.

The case of Korb v. Raytheon allowed the public to view the relationship between Raytheon and the influence regarding the Department of Defense. Korb was the vice president of Raytheon; he was responsible for congressional relations and act as a contact with numerous government departments and the Department of Defense. The president of Raytheon’s Corporation wanted him to be a visible public person in Washington. In December 1985, Korb joined the executive board of the Committee for National Security.

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The CNS is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making the public aware of any issues involving national security and the avoidance of nuclear war. “On February 25, 1986, CNS held a press conference in a Senate office building during Korb’s normal lunch hour in connection with the release of its annual alternative defense budget” (Mass Case November 24, 2012). “There was an article in the Washington Post stating that Korb was critical of increased defense spending and urged a scaling back of the 600 ship, fifteen carrier group Navy supported by the Secretary of the Navy” (Mass Case).

Nonetheless, Raytheon terminated him because Navy officials and members of the Senate Armed Services contacted Raytheon officials to complain about Korb negligence remarks. Korb was terminated effective March 31, and if he resigned, he could stay on payroll until August 31, 1986. However, he would have to obtain approval to speak at public events and have no contact for interviews to the media. Raytheon also offered Korb another opportunity to be a commercial marketing specialist but with no relationship with the Department of Defense.

Korb rejected the job because it did not compare to his job title, and benefits in Washington. In December, 1987, Korb filed a complaint in the Superior Court alleging wrongful termination in bad faith and for reasons that violated the public policy of the Commonwealth as set forth in art 16 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights” (Mass Case). Raytheon hired Korb to be the corporation’s spokesperson; he spoke against the corporation when he commented that he was adamant for increasing defense spending. This was a concern to Raytheon because Navy officials and Senates of the Armed Service felt that he was not being conducive with their requirements of his job title.

From public perceptions, Korb was a lobbyist of Raytheon Corporation advocating reduction in defense spending. Please keep in mind that he was hired to be a spokesperson of the company and not to speak against what the company did not agree with. The press conference was during his hour lunch, which is his hour lunch on the job. Because Korb made the comment and it was on company time resulted in his expulsion from his job position. Raytheon was not stating that he could not express his views that the company may disagree with, however the issue was he expressed his views on company time.

The news media weighed heavy on the comment bringing unwanted attention to Raytheon Corporation. Even when Korb wrote a letter trying to explain what he meant, the news media made it even worse with the headlines stating, “We Need More Money for the Defense”. Raytheon felt that Korb could no longer be a spokesperson for the company because he used poor judgment and lost his effectiveness as Raytheon’s activist. Therefore, they decided they would no longer pay him to be the spokesperson of the company.

The decision did not interfere with his rights, and Korb was free to express his opinions however Raytheon did not need to pay him to do so, hence on company time, even if it was his hour lunch when the conference took place. “Raytheon had a financial stake in not advocating that position. There is no public policy prohibiting an employer from discharging an ineffective at-will employee. The fact that Korb’s job duties included public speaking does not alter this rule for an at-will employee if they are deemed making unnecessary statements in the public eye” (http://masscases. om/cases). Korb felt that he had a right to speak freely by expression his opinion to the public. According to Szypszak 2011, as the U. S. Supreme Court said, “[T]he freedom to speak one’s mind is not only an aspect of individual liberty—and thus a good unto itself—but also is essential to the common guest for truth and the vitality of society as a whole” (pg. 72). In regards to the case Korb v. Raytheon freedom of speech was not Raytheon concern. Korb was on company time when he decided to speak freely at the press conference.

Regardless if they fired him because he made a comment that they did not want to advocate or if they fired him because of the Navy and Senate officials he had no grounds to stand on because “we do not have an unfettered right to speak wherever and whenever we please” (Szypszak 2011, pg. 72). Although Korb was in a public forum, the time of the speech, place, and the manner if the restrictions are content neutral. He used poor judgment at the press conference and with his position as an advocate for the company, he lost stability with Raytheon, and other delegates involved in the Department of Defense.

He was free to express himself but consequently he was not protected from the company policies because they had speech regulation to prohibit certain acts from taking place on company time. Korb gave his opinion, which was what he thought to be freedom of information however it resulted in released from his job duty. The matter is Raytheon had to react on the issue because it was obvious their relationship with the Department of Defense would have become obsolete had they would have just reprimanded Korb.

“The federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) became law in 1966” (Szypszak 2011, pg. 103). The FOIA requires most federal agencies to disclose most kinds of records in response to a written request and the statues requires agencies to provide information about the nature of their records and to describe the procedure that must be followed to obtain them” (pg. 103). The Korb v Raytheon case, a press conference held during his lunch hour that he chose to speak giving his opinion on its annual alternative defense budget. The newspaper quoted Korb stating that it was critical of increased defense spending and urged a scaling back of the 600 ship, fifteen carrier group Navy supported by the Secretary of the Navy.

His statement was negligence and in relation to the freedom of information, he could of advised the Committee of National Security along with any reporters the correct procedure for obtain information regarding the alternative defense budget. If he would have received any backslash advising them the procedure he could of stated that his opinion does not matter and because of his position as a spokesperson for Raytheon Corporation it would be in his and their interest to submit paperwork to obtain any information. Overall, he was an advocate for Raytheon with permission to join the executive board of CAN.

He must be focus at all-times rather on the job or in the public because he was an at-will employee. “Employment law involves employment discrimination litigation, including claims of race, sex, age, and disability discrimination” (Practice Insights: Employment Law). Korbs position with Raytheon Corporation was an at-will employment. “An “at-will” employment can be terminable by either the employer or employee for any reason—or for no apparent reason—unless they agreed to conditions in a contract” (Szypsak, 2011 pg. 60). The challenges with the case were the plaintiff is not part of a class for whose would benefit the first amendment protections. The first amendment concerns itself with state — not private — action to limit freedom of expression. Korb had no protection from in regards to the first amendment because Raytheon is a private agency. In addition, there is no improper interference with secured rights when an employer fires an at-will employee who has become ineffective.

With this being said Korb has had no means of support other than, he was wrongful terminated and or demoted because of the comment he made. The challenge with employment law is if it is based on “at-will”, the employee can be fired for no apparent reason without an employee even having to really justify why they fired a person. This is because the “at-will” employment clearly states and gives the definition explaining that if you are an at-will employee, you really have no rights, but you can hope you can secure your job with satisfactory work, even though this might not allow you o keep your job. The public can be your worst enemy even if things as not as bad as the public perceived things to be. Raytheon is a large corporation that builds equipment for the U. S. military. The public perception after the press conference was that a Raytheon lobbyist advocated a reduction in defense spending. The case did not state if Korb identified himself as a spokesperson for Raytheon but you may agree that he did not state he was a lobbyist, however this is what the public deemed fit for his comment.

This is why Korb should have kept his opinion to himself. The comment stated in the Washington Post gave the impression that he was a lobbyist. Some may agree that he could have possibly acted at a lobbyist because he was at a public meeting or event giving his opinion on what he thought about the budget when he could have stated no comment. If Korb would have stated, no comment, the public perception may have viewed him differently because lobbyists are used at official meetings to try to persuade their views on public matter and public officials.

The case of Korb v. Raytheon was a case with mixed emotions. Korb felt that he was misunderstood and that he was entitled to speak freely in public. While viewing the case fraud or misrepresentation could have occurred depending on how you may perceive the information. Raytheon terminated Korb because of Navy Officials and Senate Officials, and then they gave him an opportunity to be demoted to another position, which was a reduction in his salary, and benefits. In the case, Raytheon stated that Korb voluntary resigned.

He was fired first, and after “Korb’s termination, certain Navy Department officials, while reiterating their objections to attacks upon the Administration’s defense program by officials of contracting entities, contacted Raytheon to express the view that its termination of Mr. Korb was an overreaction to their objections” (scholar. google). It was only then they decided to offer him another position on March 26, 1986 in the form of an assignment in Philadelphia effective May 1, 1986.

Korb declined the position and filed a suit because he felt that the termination was improper. Korb v. Raytheon case is similar to other cases involving freedom of speech, first amendment, and wrongfully termination. In each case, the person felt that they were wronged and want to seek revenge but in the correct way to either make a point or fight for what they believe is right. Also involving cases where employees were considered “at-will” employees should bring attention that maybe the employment law should be reviewed again to prevent and or protect “at-will” employees.

The cases that support my analysis are Redgrave v. Boston Symphony Orchestra; Bally v. Northeastern University; Gram v. Liberty Mutual. Ins. Co, and Holodnak v. Avco Corp. To the contrary, Korb was hired to be the corporation’s spokesperson, and he spoke against the interests of the corporation. Although he received permission to join the CNA, he should have used better judgment when making a statement that the company may have disagreed that substantial resulted in his career being jeopardized.

References

Szypszak, C. (2011). Understanding law for public administration. Boston: Jones & Bartlett. http://legalcareers.about.com/od/legalspecialties/a/Employmentlaw.htm Retrieved 11/24/12 http://masscases.com/cases/sjc/410/410mass581.html. Retrieved 11/24/12 http://www.loislaw.com.libdatab.strayer.edu/pns/index.htp Retrieved 11/25/12 http://www.rbs2.com/freespch.htm#anchor222222 Retrieved 11/25/12 http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=1444367948772943994&hl=en&as_sdt=2,41&as_vis=1 Retrieved 11/25/12

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