LinkedIn Endorsements Can Get You Sued?

The Retro Lounge Podcast Series

This is the original description of an old podcast.

Original air date: July 8, 2009 | In episode #128, Jim Stroud and Karen Mattonen discuss a whole bunch of stuff, the least of which: Did you know that leaving a positive endorsement for someone on Linkedin could get you in trouble? Howzabout proudly proclaiming, “I don’t care about breaking the law! I have errors and omissions insurance!!! (Umm… okay) Finally, did you know that prostitution was legal in THE USA? (Well, at least in one state.) As such, would you recruit for the world’s oldest profession? This one has a lot of rants and raves from Karen, while Jim (the good cop) tries to make sense of it all. Tune in to hear it all for yourself.

The Cancel Culture Movement Will Destroy the Workplace (…unless we stop it now!)

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Dave Chappelle is one of the last few great comedians in my opinion because he is anti-PC and willing to offend everyone in order to spark conversation on meaningful topics. At least, some of the time. Case in point, here is a quote from his Netflix special – “Sticks and Stones.” (NSFW) I have censored some of the language, but I think you still get the gist of what he’s saying.

Chappelle: Tonight I’m going to try some impressions out. (crowd cheers) …I want to see if you can guess who it is I’m doing an impression of. All right? Let me get into character. You gotta guess who it is though. (crowd chuckles) Okay, here it goes.

Chappelle: Uh, duh. Hey, durr! If you do anything wrong in your life, duh, and I find out about it, I’m gonna try to take everything away from you and I don’t care when I find out. Could be today, tomorrow, 15, 20 years from now. If I find out, you’re {expletive} —duh-finished.

Chappelle: Who… Who’s that?

Crowd: (yells out) Trump!

Chappelle: That’s you! (crowd laughs) That’s what the audience sounds like to me. (more laughter) That’s why I don’t come out doing comedy all the time ‘cause y’all {expletive} is the worst {expletive} I’ve ever tried to entertain in my {expletive} life!

Chappelle was deftly calling out the cancel culture and how it seeks to erase people from the public square when certain views are expressed. Some see cancel culture as a mob mentality whereas others see it as a long overdue way of speaking truth to power. Politically speaking, both conservatives and liberals have complained that cancel culture has gone too far. And yet, it persists. I am going to explain why I think that is.

Dictionary.com defines cancel culture as the “popular practice of withdrawing support for public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive.”

In other words, someone says or does something that is offensive to someone and this turns into a widespread boycott of that person’s work. Here are 2 recent examples…

Robert Unanue, the CEO of Goya Foods, announced a massive donation of their products to food banks across the country, he also praised President Trump. During his remarks, he noted that “Trump was ‘a builder,’ like his own illustrious grandfather, and called for Americans to pray for their president.” This triggered a boycott initiative by some in the Hispanic community. To quote CNN

In an interview with Fox News Friday, Unanue said he was “not apologizing,” and called the boycott movement “suppression of speech.”

Unanue claimed a double standard in the reaction to his laudatory remarks about Trump, noting he accepted an invitation from Michelle Obama in 2012 to an event in Tampa, Florida, to promote the former first lady’s healthy-eating initiative.

“You’re allowed to talk good or talk praise to one president but you’re not — when I was called to be part of this commission to aid in economic and educational prosperity and you make a positive comment, all the sudden that’s not acceptable,” Unanue told Fox News. “If you’re called by the president of the United States, you’re going to say, ‘No I’m sorry, I’m busy, no thank you?’ I didn’t say that to the Obamas and I didn’t say that to President Trump.”

Saying something offensive to someone can get you canceled just as not saying something can get you canceled. It is the imagined slights that are the most insidious. Consider the controversy over the Young Adult book – “Blood Heir” that attracted a lot of drama because the fantasy novel did not include any racism in it. The website – Reason discussed the issue

Amélie Wen Zhao, a woman of Chinese descent who was born in Paris and raised in Beijing, had won herself an enviable three-book deal for an Anastasia-tinged adventure: “In the Cyrilian Empire,” went the publication materials, “Affinites are reviled and enslaved. Their varied abilities to control the world around them are unnatural—dangerous. And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, might be the most monstrous of them all. Her deadly Affinity to blood is her curse and the reason she has lived her life hidden behind palace walls.” The adventure kicks off when Ana’s father is murdered and she is framed, forcing her to flee. The first book was due out in June.

At some point in January, though, there emerged a vague Twitter-centered whisper campaign against Zhao….

It was open season from there: People picked over the limited information about the book to find something, anything, to justify being angry. L.L. McKinney, a Y.A. author who recently published her own debut novel and who tends to be an active participant in these pile-ons, noted that some of the publicity material described Blood Heir’s world as one in which “oppression is blind to skin color.” “….someone explain this to me. EXPLAIN IT RIGHT THE FUQ NOW,” she tweeted, accusing the author of “internalized racism and anti-blackness.” (The logic appears to be that because our world has racism, it’s unacceptable to imagine a world that does not.)

Zhao decided not to publish Blood Heir, then announced it would be published after all—pending a thorough review by sensitivity readers.

In true Carson King/Aaron Calvin style, one of Zhao’s main critics, a writer named Kosoko Jackson, himself became a target of the cancelers after his novel foolishly included a Muslim villain. How dare he.

The same cancel culture spirit is also in the workplace. The first time I witnessed it, I was not aware of what I was seeing or if I remembered the incident correctly. Golden Girl Finance helped my memory.

In 2012, Adam Mark Smith, CFO of a medical device manufacturer in Arizona, was fired after this video of him haranguing with a drive thru worker at fast food chain Chick Fil A about the company’s anti-gay bias, went viral. By the following day, his company had received hundreds of messages, including bomb and death threats, from the public demanding his termination. Smith was fired and spent the following two years struggling to find work and living on food stamps and eventually leaving the industry.

Since then, there have been several examples of people losing employment because certain people did not agree with their viewpoints. The website Reason reported on how a museum curator was force to resign over racist remarks that were arguably, nothing of the kind.

Until last week, Gary Garrels was senior curator of painting and sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). He resigned his position after museum employees circulated a petition that accused him of racism and demanded his immediate ouster.

“Gary’s removal from SFMOMA is non-negotiable,” read the petition. “Considering his lengthy tenure at this institution, we ask just how long have his toxic white supremacist beliefs regarding race and equity directed his position curating the content of the museum?”

This accusation—that Garrels’ choices as an art curator are guided by white supremacist beliefs—is a very serious one. Unsurprisingly, it does not stand up to even minimal scrutiny.

The petitioners cite few examples of anything even approaching bad behavior from Garrels. Their sole complaint is that he allegedly concluded a presentation on how to diversify the museum’s holdings by saying, “don’t worry, we will definitely still continue to collect white artists.”

Garrels has apparently articulated this sentiment on more than one occasion. According to artnet.com, he said that it would be impossible to completely shun white artists, because this would constitute “reverse discrimination.” That’s the sum total of his alleged crimes. He made a perfectly benign, wholly inoffensive, obviously true statement that at least some of the museum’s featured artists would continue to be white. The petition lists no other specific grievances.

Sometimes, it is not what you say that offends the cancel culture movement but how you say it; even if you are in agreement with them. Case in point, Reason also reported on the fate of David Shor.

A week ago, as protests over the unjust police killing of George Floyd took place in major cities across the country, Shor—a 28-year-old political scientist at the Democratic consulting firm Civic Analytics—tweeted some observations about the successes and failures of various movements. He shared research by Princeton University’s Omar Wasow, who has found that violent protests often backfire whereas nonviolent protests are far more likely to succeed. The impulse behind Shor’s tweet was a perfectly liberal one: He feels progressive reforms are more palatable to the public when protesters eschew violence.

But many progressive activists on social media didn’t care whether the impulse was liberal, or even whether it reflected reality. They denounced Shor as a racist for daring to scrutinize the protesters, even if his aim was to make them more effective. One activist accused Shor of using his “anxiety and ‘intellect’ as a vehicle for anti-blackness.” Then she tagged Civis Analytics, and invited the company to “come get your boy.”

Get him, they did. Civis Analytics promptly fired Shor.

And one more example, everything old is new again when it comes to being offended. Take for example Niel Golightly he lost his job over sentiments he expressed over 3 decades ago.

Boeing Co’s (BA.N) communications chief Niel Golightly abruptly resigned on Thursday, following an employee’s complaint over an article the former U.S. military pilot wrote 33 years ago arguing women should not serve in combat.

According to an excerpt on the U.S. Naval Institute website, the December 1987 article titled “No Right to Fight” said: “At issue is not whether women can fire M-60s, dogfight MiGs, or drive tanks. Introducing women into combat would destroy the exclusively male intangibles of war fighting and the feminine images of what men fight for – peace, home, family.”

Golightly told staff in an email seen by Reuters on Thursday that the exclusion of women at the time was “government policy and broadly supported in society. It was also wrong.”

To some, these actions are borderline insane in a country where free speech is sacred. I think there are various reasons why this phenomenon is happening and that they can all be boiled down to political and psychological advantages. From a political standpoint, the partisans of cancel culture are using the threat of job loss and other sanctions to bully people into social and political conformity. Why? By blocking the free exchange of ideas, they are able to win ideological arguments by preventing them in the first place. Yet, I see this wave of thought policing as being even more insidious than that. It is also a means of self-gratification at the expense of others. Narcissism at its finest.

Rob Hendeson, a Ph.D student at the University of Cambridge, alludes to this in his Psychology Today article – “5 Reasons Why People Love Cancel Culture.” Here are a couple of points from his piece.

Cancel culture increases social status. The most powerful motive underpinning cancel culture is social status. Research reveals that sociometric status (respect and admiration from our peers) is more important to our sense of well-being than socioeconomic status. Furthermore, a recent study found that a high social class predicts a greater desire for wealth and status than a low social class. Put differently, it is those who already have status and money who have a stronger craving for status and money relative to other people. For many affluent people, that drive is how they got to their lofty positions in the first place. Aggravating this drive is that they are typically surrounded by people just like them—their peers and competitors are also affluent status-maximizers. They are constantly seeking new ways to either move upward or avoid slipping downward. For social strivers, cancel culture has created new opportunities to move up by taking others down.

Cancel culture reduces the social status of enemies. Plainly, if there is an activity that will elevate the status of oneself or one’s group, people will do it. One approach to elevation is to do something good. But doing something good requires effort and the possibility of failure. Fortunately, another option exists: Broadcasting the bad behavior of others. This method works because social status is relative. One person losing social rank is the same as another gaining it. If you’re a 6 on the social-status ladder, working up to a 9 is hard. But scheming to bring a 9 down to a 3 is easier and more thrilling. It is much easier to unite people around bringing a 9 down to a 3 than to lift themselves up from a 6 to a 9. Additionally, people are slow to give moral praise for a good act and quick to assign moral blame for a bad one. The relative difficulty of doing something good and the prolonged waiting period to receive credit for it is why cancel culture has flourished. It offers quicker social rewards. Indeed, research shows that people engage in moral grandstanding to enhance their social rank.

Like so many others, I think the cancel culture movement has gone too far. I look forward to a day where civil debate, a free exchange of ideas and a collective acceptance of diverse thought is the norm. Alas, the cynical side of me agrees with the following quotes from the Daily Wire and Time, respectively.

“Sadly, it’s reasonable to assume that cancel culture and its wild arsenal of accusations of racism, sexism, and privilege will infest the average American workplace wholesale soon. Worse, the massive corporate virtue signaling amid the protests will only enable such accusations. As companies like Apple, Amazon, and Starbucks insist on pursuing their cynical brand of “woke capitalism,” views and opinions that exist outside the tidal progressive narrative will be summarily dismissed. Companies simply don’t want to risk their bottom line over bad PR.”

“In an age when companies have detailed information on customers’ ages, incomes and political persuasions, they’re calculating that these socially aware consumers are more lucrative than those who might be put off by social-justice campaigns.”

In other words, like so many ills of this world, it comes down to money. As soon as supporting Cancel Culture becomes too much of a financial liability to corporate giants then, change will come. Why does it take that to remove this scourge? What happened to principled beliefs? Hmm… I guess they were left at the bank. 

*This article was originally posted on the Proactive Talent blog.

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Should All Trump Supporters Be Fired?

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So, I read this very disturbing article today. At least, bothersome to me. It was from the website REASON. The headline was this, “Is Giving to Biden or Trump Grounds for Getting Fired? New Poll Finds a Disturbing Number of People Who Think It Should Be.”

Poll finds self-censorship on the rise across political groups. A disturbingly high percentage of people polled earlier this month think private political donations should be grounds for getting fired. The number was especially high among respondents under age 30, with 44 percent of the youngest group saying business leaders who donate to Donald Trump should be fired…

The article goes on to discuss how this train of thought extends to Democratic supporters (22%) of Joe Biden as well. Further on in the article, which was discussing survey data from the CATO Institute, went on to say this.

Examining all Americans under 65, 37% of those under 30 are worried their political opinions could harm their career trajectories, compared to 30% of 30–54 year-​olds and 24% of 55–64 year-olds. But the age gap is more striking taking into account political views.

A slim majority (51%) of Republicans under 30 fear their views could harm their career prospects compared to 39% of 30–44 year-olds, 34% of 45–54 year-olds, and 28% of 55–64 year-old Republicans.

Democrats reflect a similar but less pronounced pattern. A third (33%) of Democrats under 30 worry they have views that could harm their current and future jobs, compared to 27% of 30–54 year-​olds, and 19% of 55–64 year-​old Democrats.

These survey findings intrigued me and sparked my curiosity. If I spent a couple of hours researching the matter, how many people could I find who were fired for supporting the President verses those who were fired for disavowing him? Overall, I found a LOT of backlash against Trump supporters and only a few examples of people terminated for not supporting him. This seems to be in line with the survey results cited above.

These findings are not exhaustive as I spent a limited time (2 hours) searching this out. Still, I think the comparison speaks for itself. It was very challenging to find examples of people being fired for supporting Joe Biden unless they worked in the political arena. As such, asking is it okay to fire Trump supporters is more relevant than asking if Biden supporters should be fired. But, I digress, here is a list of what I found.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in Lakeland, Fla. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP)

PEOPLE WHO WERE FIRED FOR SUPPORTING PRESIDENT TRUMP

2016

04.09.16Ephrata Man Fired For Supporting Donald Trump – Eddie Slayton, an Ephrata resident and former employee of MiniTech Enterprises explained to us what happened. “I went to work like I always do and they told me I had to go see the boss of MiniTech, Tariq Akbari. He told me I was fired for supporting Donald Trump. I like Trump because he tells it like it is.” We spoke to MiniTech CEO Tariq Akbari about Slayton’s termination and he told us, “I am a Muslim and Islam is a religion of peace. We want MiniTech employees to work in a peaceful and non-threatening environment. Mr. Slayton’s support for Donald Trump created an air of hostility.”

11.18.16Reporter Fired After Expressing Support for Donald Trump on Facebook – A Houston Fox affiliate reporter has been fired after expressing her support for Donald Trump and saying America is “violent and racist under the Obama administration” on Facebook. Now-former KRIV reporter Scarlett Fakhar wrote on her professional Facebook page that, “Fox 26 Houston fired me today for expressing my conservative views on my private Facebook page. That is all I will say for now.”

12.12.16‘Million Dollar Extreme’ creators say Adult Swim canceled their show for supporting Donald Trump – The controversial comedy led to comedian Brett Gelman to sever ties with the network. According to a Buzzfeed report, a number of Adult Swim actors, executives and directors were pressuring network exec Mike Lazzo to cancel the show. However, one of the show’s writers wrote in the Daily Caller that it was ultimately their support of Trump that ultimately led to their cancellation. “The guys in [‘Million Dollar Extreme’] voted for Trump. We’re not allowed to be stupid, just ‘uneducated,'” Hyde and fellow comedian Don Jolly wrote.

2017

03.15.17 – University disputes employee was fired for supporting Trump –  A University of Wisconsin-La Crosse police dispatcher says she was fired for supporting President Donald Trump’s travel ban. University human resources director Madeline Holzem sent a letter sent to Kimberly Dearman on Monday asking her to resign or be terminated, the La Crosse Tribune reported. The letter says Dearman was investigated after a complaint from a colleague and was found to have violated university employee policies against unbecoming conduct and abusive or threatening language.

2018

01.20.18Nurse claims she was fired for supporting Trump – The lawsuit demands that Mathews be rehired and receive back pay and punitive damages for emotional trauma after being fired over a political conversation with a patient, according to Fox News. Mathews, 65, was attending to the patient on Sept. 10, 2016, shortly before the general election, when the patient asked her who she thought would win. The nurse said she was hoping for Trump to win and that she was “praying for him.” Mathews claims she received a call from the nursing manager three days after the conversation saying the patient, who was previously a high-ranking hospital employee, had complained. She was informed she was fired and ineligible for rehire at the hospital, according to the lawsuit.

10.26.18Trump Supporter Says He Was Fired After Wearing MAGA Hat, Files Discrimination Lawsuit
Dale started at the Department of Public Works in 1979 and worked his way up to become the superintendent of Public Works for District 2 in 2014. The lawsuit claimed that he “met or exceeded” all legitimate employment expectations and consistently performed above expectations, save one written warning in 2016. In 2016, Dale wore Trump’s signature “Make America Great Again” hat to work as a symbol of his support for the then-presidential candidate. He also talked about his support for the future president during conversations with his co-workers. The lawsuit claimed that after Dale wore the hat, AFSCME Local 725 President Steven Quick pointed out that Dale was a Trump supporter during a meeting with Public Works employees. Quick also allegedly passed around a photo of Trump with a person he told meeting attendees was Dale.

11.10.18Black model dubbed as racist then fired by agency for supporting President Trump – On October 26, Zoe Sozo Bethel joined a large group of young black women for the Young Black Leadership Summit. The event spanned the weekend and was held at the White House. She posted a few images from the event. One of them showed her standing with a group of people wearing hats with the words “Make America Great Again” written across the cap. Little did she know her employer would not take kindly to the pics. On her return home, she was sent a strongly worded email that released her from her contract.

11.12.18Facebook fired top exec Palmer Luckey for supporting Donald Trump for President – “Mr. Luckey, it turns out, was put on leave, then fired, according to people familiar with the matter. More recently, he has told people the reason was his support for Donald Trump and the furor that his political beliefs sparked within Facebook and Silicon Valley, some of those people say,” Grind and Hagey report. “Internal Facebook emails suggest the matter was discussed at the highest levels of the company. In the fall of 2016, as unhappiness over the donation simmered, Facebook executives including Mr. Zuckerberg pressured Mr. Luckey to publicly voice support for libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, despite Mr. Luckey’s yearslong support of Mr. Trump, according to people familiar with the conversations and internal emails viewed by The Wall Street Journal.”

2019

06.19.19Trump-Supporting Teacher Fired After Posing Semi-Nude: Lawsuit – Chelsy Zelasko is a registered Democrat, but in 2016 she became a vocal supporter of then-candidate Donald Trump. She posed semi-nude with her private areas covered by American flags or guns and was interviewed by betterthantheweekend.com weeks before the election. It was posted under the title “Female Trump Supporter Gets Naked to Make America Great Again.” Zelasko is suing the school in state Superior Court. The lawsuit was filed Monday.

09.17.19Roseanne Barr Reemerges To Claim She Was Fired For Supporting Trump – One year after being fired by ABC, Roseanne Barr has reemerged in a new interview to claim that it was her outspoken support of President Donald Trump that did her in at the network. “When it happened it was like I thought I was gonna lose my life. It was devastating and horrible and is unprecedented too that they would do that to me,” Barr said of the cancellation of her eponymous sitcom in 2018. “It was a perfect storm. That’s what I think, just the perfect storm at the perfect time. Kind of a little bit too perfect. Sometimes I think, ‘Was this orchestrated? The whole thing?’”

12.13.19Ho, Ho…Whoa! Mall Santa FIRED for Supporting President Trump – A Georgia man who has played a mall Santa Claus for the last 50 years was fired earlier this week for posting a photograph in a Trump hat on his personal Facebook account. Frank Skinner’s decades long career playing Father Christmas includes 14 years at the Mall of Waycross, the mall that just fired him after receiving a complaint about his post. The photo in question was taken as the mall was closing, when no children were around, and just meant for his friends and family.

2020

01.16.20Wisconsin woman claims she was fired for supporting President Trump on social media – A Wisconsin woman says she was fired this week over a post she made on social media issuing support for President Trump. According to WISN, Robyn Polak posted to social media on Monday night, the day before the president held a rally in Milwaukee, which she says she attended. “I said a few times, ‘Make America great again,’ and then I said, ‘MAGA 2020,’” Polak told the news outlet. Polak says she believes she was fired from her job as a dental assistant because of these comments.  She claims another social media user wrote a negative review for the office alleging that their employees were racists.

07.19.20Jeremy Roenick Sues NBC Sports, Claims He Was Fired For Being Straight, Supporting Donald Trump – In a lawsuit, filed against NBC last week, however, Roenick alleges that his comments were used as cover and that NBC News really fired him for being a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, according to Fox News. The lawsuit suggests that other NBC commentators have made similar, lewd jokes about coworkers and received a pass from network management.

07.22.20Michigan teacher says he was fired after tweeting in support of Trump – A Michigan high school teacher says he was fired this month after tweeting in support of President Trump, though the school district denies the allegations.

09.02.20Man fired for refusing to remove ‘Trump 2020’ hat at Newport News Shipbuilding – Dave Sunderland said he had been wearing Donald Trump hats to work at Newport News Shipbuilding every day for nearly four years. He wore the caps — most recently one that said “Trump 2020″ — as he walked from his car to his work site inside the gates, and sometimes for a short safety meeting at the start of his shift. Sunderland, 55, of York County, was fired last week after refusing to remove his hat before the safety meeting. He said the human resources department told him he violated a company policy barring yard workers from “campaigning” while on the job. “I wasn’t campaigning,” Sunderland said. “I wore a ball cap. I wasn’t passing out bumper stickers. I wasn’t asking people to vote. I wasn’t doing anything, except for wearing a ball cap going to work.”

09.15.20NFL Team’s Spanish-Language Broadcaster Loses Job for Supporting Trump – Moreno tweeted a post in support of Trump from his private Twitter page in April. This prompted Eric Fiddleman, who manages radio and television for the Panthers, to contact him and request that he remove references to the Panthers from his account. At this time, Moreno was not under contract with the Panthers. As an independent contractor, he is not employed during part of the off-season. But he complied, scrubbed his Twitter bio of Panthers content, and updated it to reflect his support of Trump. “Listen … I’m not even under contract right now. I am not willing to participate in this project anymore if I’m going to be censored,” Moreno said, recounting the conversation with Fiddleman. “Because I am not OK with them censoring my freedom of speech in support of the president.”

10.12.20Police Chief Reportedly Fired By Democrat Mayor Over Wife’s Support Of Donald Trump In Facebook Post – A Pennsylvania police chief reportedly recently found himself in a position where he was “forced” to retire by the town’s Democrat mayor after his wife apparently posted a controversial, pro-Trump Facebook post that the mayor believed was inappropriate enough to strip a career law enforcement officer of his job.

HONORABLE MENTION

06.20.20Joe Nocera: Ronald Lauder shouldn’t be fired for backing Trump – And one other thing: Mr. Lauder is a Republican. More than that, he’s a Donald Trump Republican, having poured $1.6 million into “pro-Trump organizations” since 2016, according to Bloomberg News. Last week, something took place at Estee Lauder Cos. that was both astonishing and troubling: About 100 employees sent a letter to the chairman, William Lauder, who is also Ronald Lauder’s nephew. They demanded that his uncle be removed from the board.

PEOPLE WHO WERE FIRED FOR CRITICISIZING PRESIDENT TRUMP

06.12.2020Facebook fires employee who protested inaction on Trump posts – Facebook Inc fired an employee who had criticized Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg’s decision not to take action against inflammatory posts by U.S. President Donald Trump this month, citing his tweet challenging a colleague’s silence on the issue.

06.12.20St. Mary’s Tourism Director Allegedly Fired For Not Supporting Donald Trump – On June 10, the Visit St. Mary’s MD (VSMMD) board of directors put out a press release stating that they would part ways with their executive director, Jason Aul. However, Aul later put out his own release, alleging that the board terminated him based on his “personal political opinion,” specifically as it related to his disapproval of President Donald Trump and his supporters.

07.18.20Report: Trump-Supporting “Red Bull” CEO Just Fired Two of His “Social Justice Warrior” Top Executives – While Red Bull employees in the US have been pressing for the company to be more vocal about racism, Red Bull’s billionaire CEO Dietrich Mateschitz is a Donald Trump admirer who has spoken out against ‘political correctness’. The 76-year-old tycoon also owns a media firm which has been criticized for giving a platform to far-right activists in his native Austria. Sources told Business Insider that Red Bull’s top executives in Austria are thought to have fired Kozak and Taylor in ‘retaliation’ for the leak, although no official reason was given for their departure.

11.19.20 – Radio host says he was fired on-air after criticizing Trump. The station tells a different story. – A conservative radio station in Colorado is disputing claims by one of its hosts that the station fired him mid-show last weekend just as he was airing disapproval of President Trump. As host Craig Silverman and executives with the Denver-based 710 KNUS shared their view of events, the incident underscored the growing isolation of conservatives whose viewpoints reflect anything but unwavering support of Trump.

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CAN COMPANIES FIRE YOU OVER YOUR POLITICAL OPINIONS?

In America, we have free speech (allegedly) and being fired for your political affiliation seems illegal to me. I am NOT a legal expert so I cannot say what is legal and what is not. Regardless of what has been said, I recommend meeting with a lawyer before pursuing any legal action. That being said, below are a a few quotes I found online.

Can I fire the Trump supporter who reports to me?

In California, the answer is clear — the law expressly prohibits employers from forbidding an employee from participating in politics, or controlling or directing an employee’s political activities or affiliations. Employers are also barred from firing or threatening to fire an employee in order to coerce him or her into any particular course of political activity. (California Labor Code Sections 1101 & 1102.)

These provisions encompass and protect more than simply supporting a particular candidate or party. The California Supreme Court has decided the term “political activities” includes all activities that may indicate support for a particular candidate or a political cause. This broad definition of “political activities” protects California employees from discrimination based not only on which candidate the employee supports, but also on support for or involvement in the many social and political movements of today’s political landscape.

Employees may not be fired or otherwise disciplined for participating in a climate march or attending an Ann Coulter speech; nor for going to a “Black Lives Matter” protest or supporting a border wall between the United States and Mexico; nor for countless opinions and activities in between.

I got fired because I voted for Trump. Do I have any recourse?

All but 1 state in the US are At Will states. That means that absent a written employment contract to the contrary, the employment contract can be broken at any time, by either party, for any reason, including no reason at all. Unless you are a member of a protected class and can prove that your dismissal was illegal under anti-discrimination laws, you have no recourse. Political affiliation is not a protected class. That said, your employer has no way of knowing who you voted for unless you are stupid enough to reveal it. Many employers prohibit political activism on company property or on company time. I’ve seen people of all political persuasions terminated for violating that rule, especially when it creates a contentious work environment.

No because you will not be able to prove that that is why they fired you. This is why your political affiliations and who you vote for should NEVER be discussed with anyone or POSTED on any social media.

I’m curious. Do you personally discuss politics at work or post about it on social media? And if so, have you ever had a concern that doing so would affect your career? Let me know in the comments below. Please and thank you.

Jim

Hidin’ Biden: How Big Tech is Fixing The Presidential Election

The NY Post published the political equivalent of a nuclear bomb this week. Based on emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop, they have found credible evidence of Joe Biden’s corruption when he served in the White House under President Obama. As amazing as this is to me, what is even more surprising is how this information has been banned from social media and censored in the mainstream media during this critical Presidential election season. What does that say about the state of our American democracy? I discuss it all in this episode. 

Special thanks to my sponsor – BlackHistoryQuiz.com

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How Workplace Classism Is Damaging Your Employer Brand

The world is changing right before our very eyes. The Coronavirus Covid-19 Pandemic has wreaked havoc on our way of life and threatens our future in ways we can immediately recognize. The number of people unemployed, the list of businesses closing, and the overall uncertainty being just a few. However, said calamity, is exacting a higher toll on some, more than others. An existing class divide is becoming even more pronounced and the repercussions, of which will be felt in society in general, will make an indelible mark on the workplace. How? Well, I think we will see a rise in classism and that will mean that companies will have to be ever more vigilant in how they protect their employer brand.

CLASSISM ON THE UPSWING

If you think about it, the Coronavirus pandemic has rather quickly divided our world into two camps; those who can work remotely and those who cannot. If you are in the camp of people who can work from home then, you are dealing with delayed business plans, travel restrictions, isolation from extended family and friends and as such, your social distancing game is solid. You likely get paid time off and if your job is not endangered, self-isolation is (more or less) an economic luxury for you. Indeed, Gallup found that 71 percent of the people making more than $180K can work from home during the pandemic, compared with just 41 percent of those making $24K annually.  And of course, there is the added perk that you will likely not get sick.

But what about those in the essential workforce? Listen to these quotes from “The Atlantic” article – “How the Coronavirus Could Create a New Working Class.”

The past few weeks have exposed just how much a person’s risk of infection hinges on class. Though people of all incomes are at risk of being laid off, those who can work from home are at least less likely to get sick. The low-income workers who do still have jobs, meanwhile, are likely to be stuck in close quarters with other humans. For example, grocery-store clerks face some of the greatest exposure to the coronavirus, aside from health-care workers. “Essential” businesses—grocery stores, pharmacies—are about the only places Americans are still permitted to go, and their cashiers stand less than an arm’s length from hundreds of people a day.

At the same time, it isn’t as if grocery workers can simply stop coming to work. More self-checkouts could be used and more contact-free deliveries could be made, but someone has to get the Cheerios off the truck and onto the shelves. We are, through this virus, seeing who the truly “essential” workers are. It’s not the people who get paid to write tweets all day, but the people who keep the tweeters in chickpeas and Halo Top.

When I hear about the plight of essential workers, my heart always goes out to them because not only do they have to deal with health concerns for themselves but, they also worry about bringing home illnesses to their family. This is especially true with Nurses. But, you know what else I think about? I think about the negative effects the Coronavirus is having on those who are unemployed, of which there are, at this point – over 20 million. The stress from not knowing how you are going to pay your bills can be unreal and debilitating. Yet, there are other consequences to consider as well, such as drug and alcohol abuse. Check out the video below from CBS New York.

Another negative effect of the Coronavirus, increased suicide. MSNBC reports on the alarming trend.

And another mental health issue related to the Coronavirus pandemic, one I had not considered, was PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Check out this quote from the CNBC article, “Could you get PTSD from your pandemic experience? The long-term mental health effects of coronavirus

After the SARS outbreak in 2003, both healthcare workers and people who were self-quarantined exhibited symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The Covid-19 pandemic could have a similar effect, according to experts. Even if you aren’t clinically diagnosed with PTSD, you may have a strong emotional reaction to the trauma of Covid-19 that can last long after an incident.

“When we think about traumatic events, it’s not just what the event is, it’s really your interpretation and what the event causes for you,” Luana Marques, clinical psychologist and associate professor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and president of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, tells CNBC Make It.

For example, healthcare workers providing frontline services, as well as people who have lost loved ones or jobs due to the disease may be at greater risk for developing long-term difficulties. Those who struggle with other mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression, or who have a prior history of trauma, may be at increased risk of more ongoing distress.

When the pandemic resides and the world returns to work, employees will bring with them unresolved mental health issues, potential substance abuse and the attitudes of some people, that they have been inconvenienced for long enough. You put all that together and you have a much different office than before. To put it simply, there will be people who just cannot deal with the changing realities and mentally bail out at work. Some of these people will be easy to identify but, a great many of them will not be. They will suffer in silence, a sort of, quiet rage, I think. How your company identifies, assists and includes them in your overall culture is what will be trumpeted to the masses. 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN CLASSISM HITS YOUR WORKPLACE? (OH WAIT, IT’S ALREADY THERE.)

Dictionary.com defines classism this way, “a biased or discriminatory attitude based on distinctions made between social or economic classes.” I agree with that definition and can attest to the impact of classism on society in general as well as the individual. The company – Executive Diversity Services discussed “Why Class is so important” on their website. I quote from it now.

Sometimes described as a “hidden” element that needs to be “uncovered” or made “visible”, a person’s experience of class can impact his or her behavior, value systems, and perceptions of self and others. Here are some ways class can have an impact:

      Affecting one’s relationships and communication with others, i.e. how we treat those around us

      Determining one’s own self-concept, confidence, and perception of ability to take on certain responsibilities, roles, or career goals

      Creating a sense of belonging or exclusion, due to one’s comfort with others or familiarity with professional or social environments

      Creating a sense of exclusion from one’s family or class of origin if one has changed social class through education, employment or life partnerships

      Influencing one’s perception of money, power, status, organizational structure and policies, and management hierarchy.

These impacts can be directly seen in a situation or can indirectly contribute to conflicts or misunderstandings and decreased performance, if not identified, understood, and consciously dealt with.

After reading that, I went down this rabbit hole of research on classism in the workplace and found a few interesting resources that were written years ago but somehow felt timely, as we gradually return to normal. I’ll explain what I mean, after I share three more quotes. This one from the aforementioned company – Executive Diversity Services.

Classism issues can be found not only within academic institutions, but also in corporate settings, in any workplace – and can often go unacknowledged. Patreese D. Ingram, a scholar from Penn State, explains that within almost every organization there exists a hierarchy amongst employees that can create a class system in itself. This hierarchy can be based on a person’s title, role, position, or function, and can cause “ some employees to feel like ‘somebodies’ and others to feel like ‘nobodies’”.

Ingram rationalizes that although rank is necessary within organizations, “rank-based mistreatment can result in lower levels of job satisfaction and performance” and can also lead to “lower levels of loyalty and commitment to the organization.”

The Business Times discussed “Class” in their piece – “Hidden rules of class affect workplace” and therein they said this…

Managers and supervisors must be aware of the hidden rules of their employees and be willing to teach them rules that bolster their success within the organization. For example, do your employees understand the organization’s unspoken rules about money? Those from poverty grew up with the notion that money was to be used, spentMiddle class norms suggest that money is to be budgeted and managed closelyWealth suggests that one should conserve and invest money. What’s right? Each is a viable use for money, but do your employees understand the views of your organization?

The same can be asked of the view of higher education. Middle class norms suggest that education is critical to success and making money. But to those from povertyeducation is more abstract, not a viable reality. For those from wealth, education is a necessary tradition for making and maintaining social connections.

And one more quote, this one from USAonRace.

The motto “rank has its privileges” finds its roots in classism. Your level or rank in an organization can mean that you are subject to different rules, or are offered different perks, and advantages, than those who are over you or under you on the organizational chart.

On its face, levelism does not sound like a bad thing. You earn your way to the top of the organization and each level you attain bears even greater rewards. Unfortunately, if you are thought to be unworthy of promotion due to your appearance, use of language, your sensibilities, or your approach to work, you will never be eligible for the perks given to those at the top. Furthermore, if you find yourself stuck at the bottom of the organization because you don’t have the budget for an impressive wardrobe or nice car, the perks you are offered often do not fit with your needs.

Those quotes really resonated with me because I can easily imagine those same issues being intensified in the post-Coronavirus era. For example, prior to the pandemic, many Americans lived paycheck to paycheck. No doubt, many of those returning to the workforce would have endured financial hardships that will impact their overall career. A few more thoughts…

  •       Returning workers may be disregarded for promotion (or recruitment) because they do not look the part; due to not having an impressive wardrobe or car. Items they may have lost in the carnage caused by the Coronavirus.
  •       Returning Executives might now have a survivalist mentality where their notion is to survive and save for another day rather than take a risk on a new idea. Without an occasional gamble, there are no rewards of upward mobility. So, their career and the company they manage, becomes stagnant.
  •       Labor and management might both have difficulty psychologically adjusting back to normal office operations whereas those who were already accustomed to working from home don’t miss a beat, get noticed and promoted. And the fate of those who have trouble adjusting back begin feeling like nobodies and become less invested in the success of the company, doing just enough to stay employed but no more.

Let’s add more to the story; this time from the quiet worker still recovering from economic hardship.  When it comes to job expenses, they are expected to pay up front and get reimbursed later. All of a sudden, working at that company is something they can’t afford yet at the same timethey cannot afford to quit.

What if there is a formal company gathering to celebrate Coronavirus survival and people are expected to dress up? Evening gowns and tuxedos are expensive, even if you rent them. So, some workers don’t attend which hurts their networking efforts inside the company and their careers are impacted.

And when it comes to recruiting, to quote Executive Diversity Services again, “…do [your] recruitment strategies only focus on Ivy League or private educational institutions? Are graduates from particular universities preferred over those who attend community colleges? Are those who take part in certain extra-curricular activities (i.e. philanthropic organizations) favored over those who had part-time jobs during school?)” I’ll add to those questions, are you ignoring people whose principal experience comes from gig work (like Uber or Instacart?).

It may be weird to ask that recruiting question now, when just a few months ago it was a candidate’s market. Now that the pendulum has swung back to the employer, there is a danger of old classist hiring practices to return as well.  Chief among them, devaluing the expertise of someone who was laid off in favor of someone who was not.  

And regarding that, I would caution companies to retain the practices pioneered and adopted when the unemployment rate was at a historic low. Back then, and it was only a few months ago, great emphasis was placed on the employee experience and how attractive your employer brand was. If you abandon that focus and return to the practice of taking jobseekers for granted then, you will wound your employer brand and make it even more difficult to recruit the best talent. 

All that to say, there are a lot of people hurting for work that can benefit your company; people who might not be able to present themselves as well as they could have pre-Corona. Be careful not to treat them as being in a lower class than you. Of course, you might not think that you do that.  Speaking of which…

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

JUST HOW CLASSIST ARE YOU?   

Okay, I’m going to just ask a few questions and make a few comments. You can answer or not, either way, I won’t know your answers unless you reach out to me. So, here we go. Just answer, yes or no, and see if you manage to surprise yourself.

  •  Do you know the names of people who “serve” you in your organization? (e.g., the janitor, the security guard, the receptionist?) If you don’t know the names of people who serve you EVERY WORKING DAY, then you might be classist.  If you greet them regularly and have had some conversations with them to the point that you know their children’s namesyou might not be.
  •       Do you speak to people who are higher than you in the organizational structure? (Senior managers, CEO, et cetera) If not, why not? They are people, just like you. If you somehow think that you are not good enough to talk to them, you might be classist. See, it works both ways. And even those who have status and advantages can feel isolated if people treat them like they are “untouchable.”
  •       Do you think that someone who doesn’t eat organically or in a ‘Healthy’ way means they’re lazy or don’t care about their health? If so, you might be classist because all the organic food I’ve seen is expensive compared to other items loaded with preservatives. That’s just how it is. Next time you’re in the grocery store, compare the prices for yourself.
  •       One last question. Do you think all homeless people are that way because they are lazy and/or substance abusers? If you said yes, then you might be classist because sometimes, just sometimes things happen through no fault of our own. Coronavirus for example. If the circumstances of this pandemic were to continue, that could become you or I.

If you had not considered before how Classism could be consciously or unconsciously affecting your employer brand, let’s have a conversation about it. (And by “us,” I mean my employer.) As we return to normal or rather, the new normal, your employer brand is more important than ever and you will need every advantage.

This article was originally posted on the Proactive Talent blog.