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The Commonwealth Court has ruled that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation should not have fired an employee after she complained on Facebook about the school bus drivers in her area and said she “will gladly smash into a school bus.”

A three-judge panel of the court unanimously reversed a decision by the state Civil Service Commission dismissing plaintiff Rachel Carr’s challenge to PennDOT’s termination of her employment and ordered that she be reinstated to her position. The panel said Carr’s Facebook comments were protected by the First Amendment because she was speaking about a matter of public concern and there was no evidence that the comments would cause tangible harm to PennDOT.

According to the court’s opinion, Carr was fired after posting the following to a Facebook group called “Creeps of Peeps”: “Rant: can we acknowledge the horrible school bus drivers? I’m in PA almost on the NY boarder [sic] bear [sic] Erie and they are hella scary. Daily I get ran off the berm of our completely wide enough road and today one asked me to t-bone it. I end this rant saying I don’t give a flying shit about those babies and I will gladly smash into a school bus.”

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Zack Needles

Zack Needles is Global Managing Editor, Regional Brands at ALM. He is also the Managing Editor of The Legal Intelligencer, Pennsylvania Law Weekly, Delaware Business Court Insider and Delaware Law Weekly. Contact him at 215-557-2373 or [email protected] On Twitter: @ZackNeedlesTLI.

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