Cyclist sacked for giving Trump the middle finger
A WOMAN who gave the middle finger to United States President Donald Trump in a photo that went viral around the world has lost her job.
Juli Briskman, a marketing and communications executive with government contractor Akima LLC, was cycling in Northern Virginia last month when the presidential motorcade drove past, prompting what she called a gut reaction.
"He pulled ads for open enrolment in Obamacare. Only one-third of Puerto Rico has power. I'm thinking, he's at the damn golf course again. I flipped off the motorcade a number of times."
The photo was taken on Saturday, October 28 and quickly went viral online, so she decided to tell her HR department when she came to work on Monday.
While Ms Briskman said she was stunned that someone had taken her photo, she nevertheless used it as her profile picture on Twitter and Facebook.
On Tuesday, she was called into a meeting. "They said: 'We're separating from you,'" Ms Briskman said. "Basically, you cannot have 'lewd' or 'obscene' things in your social media. So they were calling flipping him off 'obscene'."
The company's social media policy says activity "that contains discriminatory, obscene malicious or threatening content, is knowingly false, [creates] a hostile work environment, or similar inappropriate or unlawful conduct will not be tolerated and will be subject to discipline up to an [sic] including termination of employment".
Ms Briskman, who had been with the company for six months, said she pointed out that she was not at work when the incident happened and nothing on her social media pages mentioned her employer.
She also complained that a male colleague had not been sacked for posting offensive comments using his Facebook profile, which featured Akima LLC as his cover photo, including calling someone a "f***ing Libtard a**hole".
"How is that any less 'obscene' than me flipping off the president?" she said. "How is that fair?"
News of her sacking prompted many to ask why she was being punished for exercising her First Amendment rights to free speech. State industrial relations laws, however, mean Virginia employers are able to fire people for any reason.
Ms Briskman told The Huffington Post she was planning to look for a new job with an advocacy group such as Planned Parenthood or PETA. "In some ways, I'm doing better than ever," she said. "I'm angry about where our country is right now. I am appalled. This was an opportunity for me to say something."
Akima LLC is a holding company for a range of government and commercial service providers, including "information technology, data communications, systems engineering, software development, cyber security, space operations, aviation, construction, facility management, fabrication and logistics", according to its website.
The company has been contacted for comment.