I worked for 2 companies in the private sector wherein the authority to discipline employees and the authority to administer discipline laid solely in the hands of one individual. In one case, the owner of the company was the sole authority and in the other case, one of the managing partners had the authority to administer discipline. In both cases, the HR department had no real authority to enforce any violations of workplace decorum and conduct. In the second case I mentioned, a senior partner of the law firm would yell and scream out obscenities from his office suite that was in earshot of most of the other employees, and he did this obnoxious verbal abuse 3 or 4 times a day. The HR administrator’s office was right next to his. But the administrator and now I’m just guessing, seemed afraid to discipline the attorney for fear of losing his job. There is an old adage that never seems to get old: “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”; (Lord Acton, 1887); and that is what workplace abuse is: the power to wield one’s will over another without fear of reprisal.
Do NFL players have the right to protest perceived social injustice at a football game during the playing of the National Anthem? It’s an interesting question. Is there a “team” or “league” rule that prohibits such conduct? It doesn’t appear so. I guess the owners can fire someone if they want to; then it becomes an internal matter, and the NFL Players Union gets involved and law suits get filed. What does the US Constitution say about it? Is it a matter of free speech? Conduct, i.e., kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem, is considered an expression of free speech under the US constitution. As long as your conduct doesn’t involve harm to another human being it’s protected under the 1st amendment of the Bill of Rights to the US constitution. So it appears players do have a right to protest during the playing of the National Anthem. But some if not most people look at the issue emotionally not logically, which includes the legal definition of free speech as defined by the US Supreme Court. Emotions run high on this issue because soldiers have died to protect our freedoms. The irony is: protesting perceived social injustice either verbally or through conduct is an expression of free speech that those soldiers died to protect.