Within days of the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, employees who were observed as part of the mob entering the Capitol were discharged by their employers. Some of the individuals involved in the events at the Capitol were knowingly filmed as part of the insurrection (and many
Discipline & Discharge
Executive Summary: In the wake of the January 6, 2021, unrest at the United States Capitol Building and several social media outlets suspending President Trump’s accounts, free speech is a hot topic. Although the right to free speech is ingrained into American life, free speech is not absolute. The Constitutional right to free speech is not implicated by the actions of these private social media platforms because they are private entities, not arms of the government. Moreover, the First Amendment does not protect certain speech intended to incite or produce violence and lawless action.
Codes of Conduct are designed to set forth an organization’s values and principles, while detailing expectations for employees. In many ways, it is one of the most important documents an organization can develop. At times, when an employer decides it needs to develop a Code, it often asks counsel whether there is a sample Code or boilerplate language the company can adopt. But is an “off-the-shelf” Code of Conduct really of any value to an organization? The answer should be apparent – sufficient consideration should be devoted to a task that the organization will say this is the standard by which our business will operate!
Dear Littler: I work for a prominent company in a small city here in the Hoosier State, and we are very involved in our local community. We sponsor a corporate softball team, and last night one of our team members “took a knee” during the national anthem before a game. His supervisor asked if the player can be disciplined for this conduct or at least transferred out of the supervisor’s department. I understand the supervisor’s frustration, but I don’t know how to react. Can we do that? I just can’t believe we have to deal with this situation.
Following recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia involving a “Unite the Right” rally organized by multiple white nationalist groups protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, which turned violent and ended in the tragic deaths of a counter-protestor and two police officers monitoring the situation, a large social media campaign has been undertaken in order to identify the protestors and encourage their employers to terminate their employment. Groups identified as having ties to the Unite the Right rally include members of the Ku Klux Klan, as well as other white supremacist and white nationalist groups, neo-Nazis, skinheads, and the “alt-right.”
Executive Summary: The University of Toledo terminated an Associate Vice President for Human Resources after she wrote an op-ed column arguing that homosexuals could choose their sexual orientation and thus were not entitled to the same protections as persons of color. This view ran contrary to the University’s diversity and equal opportunity policies. The Sixth Circuit upheld the employee’s termination. The court held that the employee’s speech was not protected by the First Amendment because she held a policymaking position and was speaking to a policy issue.