You may recall Juli Briskman, the biker that flipped the finger to Trump’s passing motorcade, and lost her job after a photo she posted went viral.
Ms. Briskman is not taking her termination lying down. In what appears to be a deep-funded and well-orchestrated campaign, she has filed suit in Virginia state court against her ex-employer.
Many states have similar claims under their common laws. In Ohio, we call it Wrongful Discharge in Violation of Public Policy. It prohibits employers from dismissing employees under circumstances that would jeopardize a clear public policy manifested in a state or federal constitution, statute, or administrative regulation, or in the common law.
This case is going to be fascinating to watch. As I’ve discussed before, private-sector employees (like Ms. Briskman) generally don’t have free speech rights at work. She, however, is attempting the bootstrap her employer’s alleged (and yet to be proven) concern over the status of its federal contracts into a First Amendment retaliation claim.
So, does an employee of a federal contractor have a claim if fired over a concern by the employer that the employee’s speech could jeopardize the employer’s federal contracts?
I am skeptical that this claim has legal merit. But stay tuned. I have a feeling this case is going to have a long and interesting journey.