See this letter from Del. Emmett C. Burns to the owner of the Baltimore Ravens. The letter is on Maryland House of Delegates stationery, begins with “As a Delegate to the Maryland General Assembly and a Baltimore Ravens Football fan,” and then closes with this:
I am requesting that you take the necessary action, as a National Football Franchise Owner, to inhibit such expressions from your employee and that he be ordered to cease and desist such injurious actions. I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayambadejo is doing.
Please give me your immediate response.
Brendon Ayanbadejo’s allegedly “injurious actions” consist of “publicly endors[ing] Same-Sex marriage,” which Del. Burns faults for “dividing the fan base.” This seems to be a pretty inappropriate thing for a legislator, speaking in a way that stresses his role as legislator, to say to a private employer. There is no express threat of retaliation here, but such letters to private businesspeople — who often have to deal with legislature on various regulatory issues — tend to carry something of an implied threat, especially when they stress the author’s legislative position.
Thanks to Paul Milligan for the pointer.
UPDATE: Hans Bader (Open Market) points to cases in which government officials have tried to pressure private employers to limit private employee speech (though of course in all these cases much depends on the degree to which the government action is indeed perceived as pressure).