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The purpose of this section is to address questions that have been raised regarding the right of state employees to sign or solicit signatures for petitions regarding employment-related matters and to conduct or attend rallies regarding such issues.
State employees, as all other citizens, possess the rights of freedom of speech and of peaceable assembly. Included within those rights is the right to post petitions and stage peaceful demonstrations.
Although these general rights of citizens are specifically recognized by the Kansas Constitution and the United States Constitution, these rights are not totally unrestricted. Criminal statutes relating to trespass (K.S.A. 21-3721), disorderly conduct (K.S.A. 21-4101), and unlawful assembly (K.S.A. 21-4102) are examples of such restrictions. Likewise, disruptions of public officials and disruptions of public functions in public buildings are subject to criminal penalties (K.S.A. 21-3828).
In addition to the above statutory and constitutional provisions, policies relating to posting of petitions and demonstrations are covered in agreements and regulations. Several memorandas of agreement between state agencies and employee organizations contain provisions which set guidelines for use of bulletin boards.
Similarly, K.A.R. 1-49-10, which applies to activities at certain state buildings in the city of Topeka, places limitations or prior approval requirements on the conduct of demonstrations and on the posting of petitions and notices. Agency managers and employees should abide by this regulation and the provisions of applicable memoranda of agreement.
When activities of employees in circulating petitions or conducting rallies during work hours disrupt functions being carried on in public buildings, it is appropriate that agency managers take action to halt the disruption.
However, it is the policy of the administration to support responsible efforts by employees to express opinions regarding employment-related matters, and it is clear that the employees have a legal right to do so.
If petitions regarding such subjects are appropriately posted, or are circulated in a manner which does not interfere with the conduct of state business, they are a legitimate means for state employees to communicate their views. Although agency managers may take action to avoid the disruption of agency functions, it is inappropriate to inhibit or restrain circulation of petitions or attempt to limit attendance at peaceable rallies held during non-working hours, including lunch breaks and other scheduled work breaks.
Each agency head is responsible for ensuring that the constitutionally-recognized rights of freedom of speech and of peaceable assembly are protected and upheld in his or her agency. This administration will not condone or permit any interference with, or intimidation of, employees responsibly exercising their rights to circulate petitions or to participate in rallies regarding employment-related matters. Any intimidating actions or unreasonable interference should be reported to the appropriate appointing authority, to the Office of the Secretary of Administration or to the Office of the Governor.
Likewise, state employees who choose to circulate petitions or participate in rallies are expected to comply with applicable laws and policies relating to the exercise of these rights.
(From a memo from Patrick J. Hurley, Secretary of Administration, dated August 17, 1983.)
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