U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit
Constitutional Law — public employment — freedom of speech
Where an employee failed to show a connection between the exercise of his freedom of speech, and disciplinary action, summary judgment was properly granted to the employer.
“The evidence is insufficient to show that but for Graber’s conversation with Mascari and Meverden, he would not have been ‘bullied’ by Clarke in their meeting. Clarke and Bailey testified at trial that the reason the meeting was called with Graber was because of Nyklewicz’s complaints. The meeting between Clarke and Graber would have occurred even if the conversation with Mascari and Meverden never happened. While additional testimony revealed that Graber’s conversation with Mascari and Meverden may have been brought up during the extended meeting with Clarke, the purpose and focus of the meeting related to Graber challenging orders, blocking department resources, personally attacking Clarke, and acting insubordinate in his encounter with Nyklewicz. Clarke’s belittling ‘dress down’ of Graber, even when considered an actionable offense, was due to the aggressive and insubordinate manner in which Graber spoke to Nyklewicz; it was not the result of any protected speech in which Graber engaged.”
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Callahan, Mag. J., Bauer, J.