On Demand

Exploring the Legal Implications of Hate Speech Online


Created on July 22, 2021





While hate speech is not a new problem, social media has created new ways for messages of racism, sexism, and harassment to be widely disseminated, often anonymously. Determining where constitutionally protected free expression ends and unlawful hate speech begins creates challenges for courts, regulators, and, increasingly, for employers. In this course, Gail Gottehrer of the Law Office of Gail Gottehrer LLC, and Ronald J. Hedges of Dentons US LLP will discuss the limitations of a First Amendment analysis of hate speech on social media, potential criminal and civil liability for online hate speech, recent litigation against companies for terminating employees based on controversial social media posts, and the recent trend of companies prohibiting social and political discussions on Slack and other internal digital workplace tools. 

This course will benefit employment lawyers and any attorneys whose work involves advising businesses or individuals on their constitutional and other rights involving online speech. 

Learning Objectives:

  1. Review the distinctions between protected and unprotected speech under the First Amendment 

  2. Consider the impact of the First Amendment on social media

  3. Assess whether hate speech on social media can give rise to criminal or civil liability 

  4. Analyze litigation against companies for termination of employees over online speech

  5. Advise clients on best practices for handling digital hate speech

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