Can You Be Fired for Giving Trump’s Motorcade the Middle Finger?
Man 1: The following segment is sponsored by Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.
Interviewer: Marketing Executive Juli Briskman was fired from a government contracting firm after she was photographed giving the middle finger to President Trump’s motorcade as it drove past her on her bicycle. Briskman has consulted with American Civil Liberties Union, but her story raises several questions regarding an employee’s right to free speech or protest and an employer’s response to the same. Here to help examine this issue is Managing Partner Paul Harding from the law firm of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. Paul, welcome.
Paul: Thank you.
Interviewer: This is a real talker.
Paul: It sure is.
Interviewer: There’s a good chance you’ve already seen the story on social media. So we know why she got fired, but can an employer fire you for what is essentially free speech?
Paul: So you’ve got it right to free speech, right? The constitution is very clear on that, but an employer also has the right not to kind of sabotage their own business. In this case, they’re a governmental contracting firm. She sort of gave that gesture towards the president, therefore, you know, the sitting government lead official, and they decided that it’s time for you to go, and at this point she’s reacting to that but I don’t know if she has a lot of leg to stand on in terms of her options.
Interviewer: And it doesn’t matter that she was not on the clock at that time?
Paul: Yeah. It appears significant but it’s not. So, any of us when we’re outside of our employer’s purview just kind of when it’s Saturday if we do something that they don’t like you can be fired. So here’s the deal, we’re an at-will state you can be fired for virtually anything minus the big four: race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation. Aside from that you really can just fire people, you know, you don’t like their shoes, not having a good day, and certainly, if they do something that they think will affect your business.
Interviewer: Now, you’re saying that you don’t really think she’s got a leg to stand on, how do you predict this is going to play out?
Paul: Well, I predict that she is going to be told that there’s really not much she can do that she did something her employer… No employment contract, she’s an at-will employee, went ahead and exercise their right as she exercised her right to first amendment, they exercise their right under the at-will employment state to center packing.
Interviewer: All right Paul, thanks so much for being here and taking a look at this topic, again, a very controversial one that you probably already seen on social media. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about this one in the future.
Paul: Thank you.
Interviewer: Paul, thanks, again.