Oh, boy, this is a hot one! I thought about not evening addressing this, for like twenty seconds!
It was all over the news this past weekend when Cole White decided to travel from California to Charlottesville, VA to support a white supremacist march, that had a tragic outcome to some opposing the group White supported. Some Twitter accounts began almost immediately posting pictures of the white supremacist looking for help in discovering the identity of their supporters.
Why? Once you find who a white supremacist is, it’s fairly easy to destroy them on social media and in real life! The hot dog restaurant that Cole White worked for in California, Top Dog, LLC. (I can’t make this up), fired him as soon as they found out what he was participating in. He wasn’t fired for performance, he was fired because of the backlash of him being associated with this business.
Basically, Twitter won. Either you fire him, or we’ll make sure no one feels comfortable eating in your establishment, forever!
Is that legal? Can you fire someone over their political views? Well, yes! Okay, not if you work within the Federal Government, there are laws, for good reason, to protect workers who have differing political views. Although I would argue that Cole White doesn’t have a ‘differing’ political view, he is more of a terrorist, then some right wing nut job who doesn’t want to pay taxes!
Here’s the legal aspect of him being fired (from The Atlantic):
In many cases, firing someone for their political ideas raises few legal issues. Though public-sector workers can’t be terminated for their political views, and many union contracts require that an employer demonstrate “just cause” for firing someone, federal law doesn’t offer any protections for expressing political views or participating in political activities for those who work in the private sector and don’t have a contract stating otherwise, according to Katherine Stone, a law professor at UCLA who focuses on labor law. (There are a few caveats for those in states or municipalities with laws that go beyond the federal mandate.) But more to the point, Stone says, it’s not at all uncommon—or illegal—for private-sector workers to get fired for what they do in their free time if it reflects poorly on their employer. In cases such as this, an employer in the private sector simply isn’t required to employ someone who exercises their right to free speech, Stone says.
Here’s the money quote:
“it’s not at all uncommon—or illegal—for private-sector workers to get fired for what they do in their free time if it reflects poorly on their employer”
Should you fire white supremacist employees? Yes. Does this set precedence? Yes. Will an employee try and use this against you the next time they feel uncomfortable with something another employee does they don’t agree with? Yes.
It doesn’t matter. You do the right thing, at the right time, in the circumstances you have. Then, you worry about the next time, the next time. White supremacy and hate speech are not something you need in your workplace, ever. We aren’t talking differing political views of normal Democrats and Republicans. Some of my best friends have differing views on tax reform, healthcare, etc. I still love them and want the best for them. That’s normal, hate speech is not normal.
Understand that firing these employees just throws them back out into the wild. It doesn’t make it, or them, go away. Some will argue, and rightly so, that it’s best not to fire these employees because it gives you an opportunity to educate them, to help make them better. That’s truly being inclusive. I don’t agree or understand your hatred, but you are apart of this organization. We made a decision to bring you on. So, maybe we should try and help from the inside.
Will it work? Most likely, no. But it might. It might change one person. It’s a start.
I was married by a Jewish Cantor in a Temple in Lincoln, NE. This Jewish Cantor took in a white supremacist into his home who was unable to care for himself any longer. The Cantor was able to help this person see that the people this white supremacist hated the most were willing to care for and help him in his time of n d, when ‘his’ people were not. Cantor changed one man, not the world. But maybe this is how we change the world, one person at a time.
FYI – there are states in which it is illegal to fire someone for their legal off-work activities. Colorado is one of them.
So what happens when a Christian bookstore owner fires a person seen at an LGBT event?
Bingo, Fred Johnson.
And that is why the comments of Max R. are so off base. Max sounds like he is a fan of tyranny, which is the slippery slope that comes when you want to extinguish thoughts or opinions by “destroying” them. You should absolutely oppose them by changing men’s hearts with logic, intellectual reason, and hoding the line against them but to try to eliminate them by force (sealing your work with blood) you become bedmates with them and are nothing more than a facist opposing freedom and liberty.
Wonderful comments, Mr. Sackett.
The white supremacist represents the despotism of man. To defeat despotism, the public must engage in an earnest commitment to liberty. We must bring terror to the enemies of popular democracy.
Do not shrink from the word. Terror is nothing other than justice. It is prompt, severe, and inflexible; it is therefore an emanation of virtue.
As you so clearly impress upon us, it is our duty and pleasure to destroy these people. Only by sealing our work with our blood, will we see at last the bright dawn of universal happiness.
I’ve seen this topic discussed in a couple of HR forums over the past couple of days.
IMO, this is not “firing for political views”. Hate speech and threats of violence against people because of their race is not a “political view”.
And, “freedom of speech” is not freedom from consequences.
This was a firing over an employee’s personal views (which I disagree with) costing his employer money and that impact cost this person his job. If it was never brought to light via social media, there’s a good chance this dude is serving hot dogs next week and no one even knows.
As I said in the post, I agree with you. I also don’t believe this is a ‘political’ view, but terrorism at a very real level.
Fantastic article. Not an easy subject to tackle but you did it in fine fashion. Your last paragraph brought it back to the human aspect and put skin on it. In the end, things will change one person at a time.
Thanks Tim for not posting something controversial. IMHO – there is a more underlying story here than if someone is on the “alt-right” or “alt-left.” It’s slowing erasing history. It’s been happening for a while. Slowly, but surely, removing statues, changing the names of parks & schools because that person owned slaves or fought for the south. Our history is very personal & must be taught properly. A lot of these people were very influential in the history of their states but we only remember them for one moment in time. That’s wrong. Right now, we are a country that is uneducated about its history & a people that want to suppress the speech of those we don’t agree. That’s wrong. Both extremes have nutjob jackwagons on both sides & combined, they are < 1% of the population. However, they are getting over 95% of the news coverage. They are reveling in this. If society ignores them, they have no voice. If we don't give them the attention they want, they go away. Firing someone over their personal views; that's an individual decision. Would I want that representing my company, no.