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View Diary: Woman fired for Kerry bumpersticker (237 comments)

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  •  "liberal" Washington state (none)
    At Will or my fave, Right to Work...

    it's most states these days.

    •  WA is not a "Right to Work" State (none)
      But these are


      Washington has a proud history of union organization.  It's nickname was once "the Soviet of Washington."

      I am a catastrophic success!

      by lapin on Mon Sep 13, 2004 at 04:36:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  have you told L&I? (none)
        because i've been told by them that i am powerless... on numerous issues.

        call it what you want the effect is the same.

        •  Right to Work defined (none)
          A Right to Work law secures the right of employees to decide for themselves whether or not to join or financially support a union. However, employees who work in the railway or airline industries are not protected by a Right to Work law, and employees who work on a federal enclave may not be.

          Right to Work is not same as "at will."

          Sorry you've had to deal with L & I.  I know it's no fun.

          I am a catastrophic success!

          by lapin on Mon Sep 13, 2004 at 05:16:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Wow, (none)
        that map looks oddly familiar.  Let's see.... color those blue states red......

        USA Out Of Iraq Now!

        by jazzmaniac on Mon Sep 13, 2004 at 07:09:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Just to be clear . . . (4.00)
        and you may already realize this, but "right to work" is not the opposite of "at will."  Rather, a "right to work" law secures the right of employees to decide for themselves whether or not to join or financially support a union.  "At will" means that an employer may terminate someone's employment for any reason (or no reason) at all (i.e., their astrological symbol, hair color, the boss is in a bad mood, etc.), so long as it is not an unlawful reason (gender, age, disability, race, etc.).

        Although I am a management-side employment lawyer, I am not expert on state-by-state protections of political beliefs, so it is possible that there is some obscure state law out there that prevents the type of firing described in this post.  However, an ACLU chapter president stated, concerning a guy who was fired by a private (i.e., not government) employer for his socialist beliefs:  "There is no legal case to be brought," explains Miami chapter president Lida Rodriguez-Taseff. "The law is pretty clear that a private employer can fire someone based on their political speech even when that political speech does not affect the terms and conditions of employment." A public employer would be prevented from firing someone based on political speech (because that would constitute the government itself suppressing free speech).

        Not good news for this woman (with whom I sympathize, having had my Kerry/Edwards bumper sticker recently presented to me as "litter" found in the parking garage--even if it was a magnetic "sticker" and was presented in a "joking" manner) . . . but I hope it is helpful to clarify the state of the law.

        •  I understood that the two (none)
          are not mutually exclusive.  I also wanted to say thank you for the clarification and welcome to Kos, if no one has said that yet (I noticed that you began posting under this handle 7/20/04).  This is the power of the internet, the ability of mutiple disciplines to apply their minds and experiences to the discussion of a problem, sometimes ad nauseum.  But I learn so much from it.

          I am a catastrophic success!

          by lapin on Mon Sep 13, 2004 at 07:56:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Public Policy Exception (4.00)
          This is how you sue.  No employer may discharge an employee in violation of public policy -- such as, retaliation for reporting the employer's illegal activities.  As has been pointed out, an Alabama statute provides that it is a misdemeanor for an employer to coerce, intimidate or threaten to discharge an employee in an effort to influence the employee's vote.  Instead of framing this as a firing for her "political views," in general, you would frame it as an effort at voter intimidation -- both of her and her fellow employees.  Thus, the claims would be "wrongful termination in violation of public policy."  A court may or may not buy the argument that it was voter intimidation, but it passes the laugh test, and a good lawyer would craft a very persuasive argument, throwing in the evidence of the letter included in the employees' paychecks.  I'd give it a better than 50 percent chance of stating a claim.
          •  Well done! (none)
            Ah!  You see, that is exactly the kind of state statute of which I was not aware, due to the fact that I do not practice in Alabama.  If what you say is true, I think your strategy is a good one.  As you know, common law public policy exceptions are often carved out by courts on a case-by-case basis (in Texas, ours are very limited, pretty much restricted to a Sabine Pilot prohibition against firing someone for refusal to perform an illegal act, although I believe there may be one other that is not coming readily to mind at this hour).

            Even if no one else has tried the argument in Alabama before based on the misdemeanor provision you cite, it's exactly the kind of thing that forms a good "public policy" argument.  Nicely done.

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