Labor & Employment

Judge tosses wrongful termination claim by woman forced to resign after flipping off Trump motorcade

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Trump motorcade

A presidential motorcade in July 2017. Michael Candelori/Shutterstock.

A Virginia judge dismissed a wrongful termination claim on Friday by a woman who said her employer, a government contractor, violated public policy by forcing her resignation after she gave the finger to the motorcade of President Donald Trump.

Judge Penney Azcarate dismissed the wrongful termination count in the suit filed by Juli Briskman, but allowed a claim that Briskman’s employer shorted her on severance pay, the National Law Journal reports. Briskman had claimed Virginia-based Akima breached its contract when it paid her two weeks’ severance instead of the four weeks she was promised before her resignation.

In her ruling from the bench, Azcarate gave Briskman 21 days to amend the complaint.

Briskman was a marketing analyst at Akima. She flipped off Trump’s motorcade while bicycling last October, and news photographers snapped photos and posted them online. Briskman posted a photo to her Facebook page and disclosed the incident to her bosses.

Briskman says she was initially told she was being fired because the government contractor feared retaliation and because she violated company policy banning obscene content on social media.

Briskman alleges inconsistent treatment because a senior director at the company wasn’t fired after calling someone “a f—— Libtard a——” in a Facebook discussion about Black Lives Matter.

Lawyers representing Akima had argued there is no free speech public-policy exception to Virginia’s at-will employment scheme, which generally allows firing without having to establish just cause.

Briskman is represented by the Geller Law Group and Protect Democracy in the suit, filed in Fairfax County in April. Protect Democracy counsel Cameron Kistler and Geller Law Group lawyer Maria Simon issued this statement:

“Juli Briskman’s case is about democracy and the grave threat facing all Americans if keeping our jobs relies on our unconditional silence and support of the government in power. We intend to review the court’s concerns and decide how to proceed.”

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