Here's a question I never thought I'd be asking in a column: Can you get fired for flipping off the president? Apparently, the answer is yes.
Meet Juli Briskman. You might not know her name offhand, but perhaps you've seen her picture. It went viral late last month after President Trump's motorcade flew by her while she was riding her bike in northern Virginia.
Although she says she's "not a strident activist" in the words of a Washington Post writer, Briskman was overcome with emotion, and she gave Trump what we might call a Jersey salute. (You know, the finger.)
"Here's what was going through my head that day: 'Really? You're golfing again?'" Briskman told the Post.
The whole thing would have been entirely inconsequential, except for three things:
First, her gesture was captured by a photographer from Agence France-Presse and Getty Images. Next, the photo went viral. Despite the fact that Briskman is seem from behind in the photo, friends and family recognized her, and some of them tagged her on social media. She embraced it, and made the whole thing her profile photo on Facebook and Twitter.
Finally, Briskman says, realizing she'd been outed and identified, she told her employer, government contractor Akima that she was the one in the photo--wanting to get ahead of the story in case anyone else identified her and asked her employer for comment.
The company's reaction? It fired her, Akima says--actually, asked for her resignation in lieu of being fired.
"I wasn't even at work when I did that, but they told me I violated the code-of-conduct policy," Briskman told the Post. The company cited a policy prohibiting obscene policy on social media, although Briskman, 50, said she was also told she was being asked for her resignation because her actions "could hurt business."
So, does Briskman have any recourse? She claims another Akima worker who called a fellow employee an "f------ Libtard a------" using a social media account that identified him as working for Akima wasn't disciplined, and says she's reached out to the ACLU.
According to one attorney however, her issue might not be so much that she flipped the bird to the president, but that she 'fessed up to her company.
"You can't see her face; she is totally unidentified in that picture. But once she identified herself to her employer, they had to consider that information," Bethesda lawyer Bradley Shear, "who specializes in social-media issues," told the Post.