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Clear guidance requested by Virginia lawmakers for federal workers’ freedom of expression rights

Rebecca Barnabi
israel gaza
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Virginia federal workers have voiced concerns that they fear censorship or retaliation for expressing their personal views about the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.

U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia sent a letter to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Office of Special Counsel requesting guidance on the self-expression rights of federal workers as related to the conflict and humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

“Virginia is home to one of the highest concentrations of federal employees in the country. These federal employees perform essential work for the country and deserve respect for their public service and commitment to their fellow citizens,” the senators wrote. “Unfortunately, we have heard from a number of federal employees in Virginia that they are either afraid to share their personal views for fear of being targeted for reprisal, or do not know the policies around sharing personal views and have consequently remained silent, even amid personal grief. Fears of being targeted for reprisal or remaining silent have manifested in numerous ways, including deleting social media, refraining from attending demonstrations, or simply refusing to share any views.”

Clear and transparent guidance is essential for federal employees, especially who have personal connections to the conflict, and who are serving the U.S. with dignity and professionalism.

“Although we appreciate your outreach efforts to federal employees thus far, current OPM and OSC policies lack adequate guidance on this matter and have left many federal employees unaware of their rights. This conflict has brought incredible heartache to countless Americans, and we urge you to act swiftly to develop clear guidance on federal employees’ rights allowing for the appropriate expression of these sentiments.”


Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.