Foley v. MassHealth

Government employees don’t surrender their First Amendment rights when they enter public service

In January 2021, during the Coronavirus pandemic, Denise Foley, the Director of Internal and External Training and Communication, was terminated from her position at MassHealth after she used her personal Facebook account to criticize the practice, and encouragement, of turning in one’s neighbor for not complying with local mask ordinances.

Foley’s job duties were not related to masks or messaging around COVID-19, and she had, in fact, received glowing job reviews after work was made remote due to the pandemic. She was even described as taking the change “in stride.” Yet, despite her outstanding work, Foley was terminated for engaging in political speech. Speech that has “everything to do with the very core of the First Amendment.” Foley was not even able to read the official complaint used by MassHealth as evidence of wrongdoing.

“Denise Foley, like every other American, has a right to voice her opinion on civic issues. And in this case, she did so in her personal capacity, in a private group online, and it had no bearing on her job or her role with MassHealth,” said Jeff Jennings, an attorney at the Liberty Justice Center. “MassHealth is a government workplace, and government employees don’t surrender their First Amendment rights when they enter public service. Denise should not have been fired, and we will fight vigorously for her rights.”

The Liberty Justice Center is working together on this case with private attorneys for Foley, who previously sent a letter to the MassHealth demanding that they reinstate her. The agency failed to comply, and the two legal groups have filed her lawsuit Foley v. MassHealth.


Buck Dougherty

Buck Dougherty

Buck Dougherty is a Senior Counsel at the Liberty Justice Center, where he litigates in trial and appellate courts on behalf of everyday citizens in order to protect their civil liberties and preserve their constitutional rights.

Loren Seehase

Loren Seehase

Loren A. Seehase is a Senior Counsel at Liberty Justice Center where she litigates cases to protect the rights to free speech, economic liberty, private property, and other Constitutional rights in both federal and state courts across the country.

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Case In The News

The Patriot Ledger
July 27, 2021

(The Patriot Ledger)—A former MassHealth official from Milton is suing the state and her former bosses for firing her over her comments she made in the Milton Neighbors Facebook group, where she compared some of the state’s policies to Nazi Germany. Denise Foley, formerly MassHealth’s director of internal and external...

Case Documents



Foley v. MassHealth


July 22, 2021


Norfolk County Superior Court




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