Oral argument: Mar. 22, 2011
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (Feb. 4, 2010)
FIRST AMENDMENT, PETITION CLAUSE, RETALIATION, PUBLIC EMPLOYEES
In 2003, the Borough of Duryea, Pennsylvania fired its police chief, Charles J. Guarnieri, Jr. Guarnieri filed a grievance leading to arbitration and his reinstatement. When Guarnieri returned to his position, Duryea issued him a number of directives limiting the tasks he could and could not do on the job. Guarnieri filed a second grievance, leading to modification of the directives. Subsequently, Guarnieri sued Duryea in District Court alleging that Duryea issued the directives in retaliation for his filing of the 2003 grievance, violating his First Amendment right to petition. After a jury found for Guarnieri in District Court, Duryea appealed to the Third Circuit. The Third Circuit held that the First Amendment protects public employees in filing grievances concerning any matter, even those of a personal nature. The Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine whether public employees may sue their employers for retaliation, when the alleged retaliation is for the filing of grievances based on private matters rather than issues of public concern.