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.