In the wake of Friday and Saturday’s horrific, evil events in Charlottesville, the twitter account YesYoureRacist posted many riot photos and identified many of the rioters. And, as a result, some have lost their jobs.
Question: Does one participating in a Nazi rally enjoy any job protections from said participation?
“But Jon,” you ask, “just six month ago you told us that the National Labor Relations Act protects individuals’ political advocacy during their own time in non-work areas? What gives?”
What gives is that you missed the key first part of this standard—the political advocacy must be non-disruptive. There was absolutely nothing “non-disruptive” about what happened in Charlottesville. In fact, it was the very definition of disruptive.
Thus, even if Mr. White (really his name) could argue that the protest was “for or against a specific issue related to a specifically identified employment concern,” (and I would strongly argue that racial purity is not such an issue, see Title VII), the violent and disruptive nature of the protest removes all hope he and anyone else at the rally could hold for any employment protections.
More deeply, NLRA or no NLRA, free speech or no free speech, if one marches in public exposing a connection to this brand of hate, I would dare the individual to sue after being fired. Do not pass go, do not collect severance, just bring it on. Because what kind of employer am I if I ignore an employee’s role in what happened over the weekend? What message does it send to my minority employees, my Jewish employees, my Muslim employees, my anyone-but-alt-right employees (not to mention my Title VII obligations to provide a workplace free from racial and religious harassment)?
Silence in the wake of hate at best condones the hate, and at worst participates in it. If it’s my business, I choose not to stay silent.
This post originally appeared on the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog, and was written by Jon Hyman, Partner, Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis. Jon can be reached at via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, via telephone at 216-831-0042, on LinkedIn, and on Twitter.