Under Pressure: The Swift Termination of DC Protesters

What social media giveth–the ability to loudly express views–it taketh away–those views leading to termination of employment. And so quickly now! What a difference from the hesitation of employment action after the 2017 Charlottesville white supremacy riots. Why now?

  1. Relentless social media brings external activities into the workplace. With the DC protesters, detailed reporting on who was doing what–made easy by the protesters’ selfies and videos–lays bare this outside activity to everyone.
  2. Pressure to protect the brand and the morale of a business requires a quick response. Co-workers are uncomfortable and so are customers or clients.  Corporate activism has been on the rise for decades and employees expect business to take a stand, especially in their workplace. Starbucks and Apple were once the outliers on social issues but now companies cannot afford to remain silent.
  3. Employees expect transparency and communication in their workplace. The policy positions of the workplace matter. It is not only millennials who have stated corporate responsibility is more important than pay.
  4. Traditional business groups have condemned this protest and the violence, which is a sea change. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), which represents 14,000 employers, had President Trump speak in 2017. Last week it called on Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove the President from office during the insurrection, calling the protesters “armed thugs.” The US Chamber of Commerce and the National Retail Federation, among other traditionally non-political actors, strongly condemned the violence. (Radio silence from SHRM which has long defended its ties to the White House).
  5. At will employment is the law in 49 of 50 states (Montana readers can stop here). The tool to fire an employee for any (lawful) reason can be powerful–when used properly.
  6. As the FBI reports more protests are planned in all 50 states, employers want to ensure their workplace is safe and good for business.

Do you have an employee who was at the protest? Are fellow workers uneasy? Are you? Call us. We can help.