A Berkeley, California restaurant terminates an employee for his political beliefs after learning he attended a political protest in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Employee’s free speech are not always protected. Employers can fire employees at will. There is little to no protection for those who attend these rallies and have no other protected class.
Is participating in a political protest protected activity? IF the protest is a bout a protected class – for both sides. The protests could be considered defensible under Title VII simply because it has to do with a protected characteristic A few local governments maintain protections for employees’ political affiliations, including in Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Wisconsin. But political views are not a protected class under federal Title VII civil rights protections, unlike factors such as race, sex or religion.
More firings could follow, as a Twitter page “Yes You’re Racist” has attempted to name and shame the white nationalists who attended the rally Friday night and Saturday.
This public shaming of those involved in the protest comes shortly after a Google engineer was terminated by the tech giant for a controversial memo that, among other things, decried the company’s diversity efforts and said women were not biologically suited for the technology industry.
Employers trying to decide how to cope with a white supremacist or someone holding other discriminatory views have to consider their jurisdiction and the nature of the employee’s speech and affiliation.
Government employees do have a right to free speech, but are limited in terms of what they can say in the workplace. Workers at private employers have less leeway under the law to say whatever they please.
Employees should think twice before attending these type of violent protests on both sides of the issues because it could lead to termination if the employer finds out.