The plaintiff and the public-sector union he represents asserted First and Fourteenth Amendment claims to reinstate special-access privileges to restricted Maryland Transit Administration property, after state officials allegedly limited those privileges in retaliation for the plaintiff’s criticism of the transit administration. The district court properly entered summary judgment for transportation officials.
The plaintiffs undoubtedly have an interest in accessing transit property, but they’ve never been entitled to uninhibited access. Keycard access to restricted spaces was extended as a purely discretionary courtesy. When the plaintiff upset a transit employee by criticizing her work, the transit administration revoked this discretionary courtesy and further asked the plaintiff to seek permission before attending hearings where that same employee might be in attendance. The administration has a critical interest in managing its employees’ work environment, and the union is still free to represent its members offsite or seek permission for onsite access. As such, the effect of the new access policies is not sufficiently adverse to support a First Amendment retaliation action.
At the time he was removed by police, the plaintiff’s lawful purpose for being onsite didn’t give him carte blanche to access restricted transit administration offices, especially since he’d explicitly been barred from being there without permission. When he refused to leave when asked, a reasonable person considering the totality of circumstances would conclude that there was probable cause to believe the plaintiff had violated the law.