Worker fired for Kerry sticker---sigh.

Linky link.

From the article:

No, it’s not a free speech issue. And yes, you can be fired for basically any reason. Still, it’s just sad.

You can? Here in Texas (only loosely related to reality at times, I know), I’m pretty sure you can get shitcanned for no reason pretty much at the whim of the Man™. But if the employer is going to list a reason, it better be backed up with some evidence. For example, most companies I’ve worked for have let people go if we caught 'em looking at porn during the day. But we didn’t fire them for looking at porn, because if they sued and could prove that someone else looked at porn and didn’t get fired we’d be in trouble.

This woman should sue her boss’s ass of, IMO.

Well, yes it is a free speech issue, just not a constitutional one. Depending on the state, it is still illegal to dispatch someone based on voting status.


IANAL, but I’m reasonably sure this falls under some form of discrimination, and is actionable.

However, it still boils down to a “her word against his” type of deal about the circumstances surrounding the firing, so chances are good that nothing will come of it. Perhaps a small settlement prior to trial, to keep his company’s name out of the papers, but nothing more.

Sucks, doh-nit.

IANAL, but I’m reasonably sure this falls under some form of discrimination, and is actionable.

However, it still boils down to a “her word against his” type of deal about the circumstances surrounding the firing, so chances are good that nothing will come of it. Perhaps a small settlement prior to trial, to keep his company’s name out of the papers, but nothing more.

Sucks, do-nit.

Well, her and her manager’s word (provided he wants to corroborate her story) against his.

I forwarded this article to the Bush-Cheney web-site, and asked them if Phil Gaddis was their idea of a “compassionate conservative.” I think someone should forward it to the Kerry campaign as well.

Bottom line: I doubt that the bumper sticker was the reason she was fired, unless the company has a policy about political stickers or political advertising on company property (even thought he sticker is on her car, she most likely parks it on the company parking lot).

IMO, she pissed someone off for some reason or another, and this is just how it came out. Granted, I think her boss is a fucking bonehead for choosing this for a terminable offense.

I can be a bit partisan myself at times, but God! Even I’m not that big an asshole about it.

DOH! I missed the very bottom of the article; apparently The Boss (Gaddis) does NOT have a policy concerning political speech or political advertising on company grounds.

If you say so. The way I read it, it looks like whatever the policy is, he gives himself special privileges under it.

He’s a peckerhead, AFAIAC.

Ditto to the peckerhead comment.

IANAL, but I could not find any reference to party affiliation being a protected class for the basis of discrimination suits affecting at-will employment in the private sector. It looks like this is generally unlawful in the public sector as it has the potential to conflict with the first amendment.

Are there any employment law experts on the board? Is there a precedent (outside of the public policy decisions which do not apply here) for this being illegal?

You rang?

Seriously, I’m not an expert on all areas of employment law, but IAAL, I’m in the right state, I do know First Amendment law, and this is a fairly basic question.

Yes, the firing is legal. The OP had it right. As this involves a private employer, there’s no state action, and therefore the First Amendment does not apply. In Illinois, employment at law is the default rule, which means that an employee can be fired for no reason, or any reason. You can be fired because you have blue eyes, or drive a Toyota.

There are three basic exceptions. 1) The employee is a member of a protected class. (You can’t be fired because or your race, gender, national origin etc.) 2) The firing violates a fundamental public policy. This exception is narrower than it might seem. Examples: You can’t be fired for serving on jury, filing a workers’ compensation claim, or reporting a crime. Although it might seem like political expression might fit into this exception, I’ve never seen a case that so states. 3) You have a contract, and the firing violates the contract. No contract, union or otherwise, it mentioned in the OP, so I assume none exists (beyond employment at will.)

Employment at law? What the hell’s that? Employment at will.

Not my day. I re-read the link. I assumed Decatur, Illinois. It’s Decatur, Alabama. I’m fairly sure the law is the same there, though, unless Alabama has broader speech protections in its state constitution. (Unlikely.)

Um, firing based on eye color would be inappropriate, or does only skin color count? Hiring/firing policies relating to eye color would be a quick way to find yourself sued out of business.

Well voting is pretty darn fundamental…

As a comparison however, isn’t it usually illegal to offer someone a bribe/benefit for voting in favor of candidate X? If so, how much difference is there really between punishing someone for failure to vote your way as rewarding someone for voting in your favor?

Cite, please? Unless eye color is found to be a pretext for race-based firing, it’s not a protected class. Skin color (race) is a protected class. Eye color is not.

I agree. But we’re not talking theory here. Strictly speaking, we’re not talking about voting either. No one has said that she was fired becuase she voted in a certain way. She was fired because she parked her car, with a political bumpersticker, one someone else’s property. Do I agree with the firing? No. But my point stands. I am not aware of any case precedent which would make this firing wrongful. I’m always willing to be educated, though. If you are aware of such a case, please cite it.

Again, we’re not talking about voting. We’re talking about political advertisement. It’s not bribery to pay the New York Times to carry a political ad, and it’s not wrongful for me to refuse to allow someone to put a campaign sign on my front lawn. Similarly, if I don’t want a car on my property with a political bumper sticker, I’m within my rights to tell the car’s owner to get out.

It looks like both bribery and implied punishment are explictly illegal.

From the DOJ:

As Random states, however, this was an issue about advertising for a particular candidate, not voting for one.

Firing someone for having a political bumper sticker on their car, so long as the text of the sticker itself isn’t generally offensive (“Fuck Bush”), should damn well be illegal. I hope this boss chokes to death in a pool of his own vomit.

You’re entitled to your opinion, and I’m not going to condemn you for it. (Well, maybe I’ll quarrel with the “chokes to death on vomit part”.)

But let’s make sure you’re being consistent here. I know nothing about your individual life situation, but let’s say you own a modest home near a university town. In town, you are the part owner and manager of a coffee shop.

You hire two people. One comes to your house every day or week and parks in your driveway. (Maybe she walks your dog, mows your lawn, or provides child care.) The other works in the coffee shop as a waiter.

The dog walker has a large sign on the top of her car, which says “Protect the Unborn - Vote Bush”. Remember, this sign is in your driveway every day.

The waiter wears a 4-inch diameter button that says “Protect Gun Rights - You’ll Get My Assault Rifle When You Pry It From My Cold Dead Hands.”

You okay with both? Or can you tell your employees to express their political opinions on their own time?

Random, no, I wouldn’t fire either of them.

It may not be illegal, but it sure as HELL is unethical.

Discrimination may be based upon any immutable racial characteristic, including skin, eye or hair color, and certain facial features.

ok, to nitpick myself, maybe thr firing per se may not be wrongful but

18540. (a) Every person who makes use of or threatens to make use
of any force, violence, or tactic of coercion or intimidation, to
induce or compel any other person to vote or refrain from voting at
any election or to vote or refrain from voting for any particular
person or measure at any election, or because any person voted or
refrained from voting at any election or voted or refrained from
voting for any particular person or measure at any election is guilty
of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 16
months or two or three years.

I would imagine her state has similar law

Although there are laws IIRC requiring media outlets to allow equal access to their services.

IMHO its a mighty fine hair to split to claim its ok to fire someone for political advertising in a non-disruptive or non-work related way and but not ok to punish someone for voting for a certain candidate. Would a “I voted for Kerry” bumper sticker the day after the election hold the same legal status. Advertising can take many forms. If I simply stated to my boss “I plan on voting for Kerry” and he fires me for making this statement, how is he not attempting to intimidate me for my “voting choice”