Utah Employer, Terry Lee Forensics, Fires Workers Supporting Obama
After the president's reelection, a Las Vegas company laid off 22 employees, claiming it couldn't bear the burden of Obama's health care law. A Cedar City, Utah, employer also laid off two workers because of the law, and the boss claims that he chose the unfortunate souls because they voted for the guy responsible for it.
The Salt Lake Tribune published a story on Wednesday about a Vernal City smoothie bar, called I Love Drilling, that charges liberals more for a drink. Terry Lee, owner of Terry Lee Forensics, applauded the decision in the comment section:
In a follow-up interview with a Tribune reporter, Lee explained that this remark was somewhat "tongue in cheek" and that the employees also lagged in performance. But their support for Obama was certainly an issue too.
And It's Legal
Most employee in the U.S. are "at will," which means they can be fired for any reason, as long as it's not a specifically prohibited one. Under federal law, only race, color, religion, sex or national origin are unlawful reasons, and only in five states -- California, New York, Connecticut, Colorado and Mississippi -- are employers forbidden from firing workers for their political beliefs.
In most of the country, you can't fire someone for worshipping the devil, but you can fire someone for leaning to the left.
This isn't true, however, for public employees. After all, if the government fired someone for his or her political speech, that would be the government suppressing political speech -- a big no-no in modern democracies.
Fired For Wanting Revolution
Private employers, on the other hand, can kick out anyone they disagree with -- and Terry Lee isn't the first. In October 2001, the nonprofit network Goodwill Industries fired one of its garment workers, Michael Italie. He was running for Miami mayor on the Socialist Workers Party ticket, which had a somewhat controversial agenda -- including inciting a working-class revolution, and usurping the war-making powers that be.
Supporting Obama may be slightly less incendiary than calling for an overthrow of the government, but this past election incited private sector passions more than most. In the lead up to November, several major CEOs warned their employees against voting for Obama, saying layoffs were likely if the president had a second term. Terry Lee Forensics is the first reported employer, however, to actually admit to laying off employees because they were thought to have helped that happen.
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Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.
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