Fired for Giving Trump the Finger?

business_ethics_highlights_2 The piece linked below (by BEH co-editor Chris MacDonald) tackles the difficult question of whether employers should be encouraged to fire employees for (what they see as) bad behaviour off-the-job. The problem is rendered all the more thorny when the behaviour in question is an insult lobbed at a highly divisive politician.

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LINK: Was it right to fire an employee for giving President Trump the finger?
(by Chris MacDonald for Canadian Business)

Is she defiantly hero, or a disrespectfully flippant? The woman who flipped off Trump has lost her job. Did her employer act ethically?

Juli Briskman—irked that the president was golfing when he ought to be focusing on more important matters—raised her middle finger at Donald Trump’s motorcade as it zipped past her on her bicycle near Trump National Golf Club last month. And for that, she was fired.

I’ve written a few times about people being fired for their off-the-job behaviour (See: Fired for Being a Jerk in Public and Should Rioters be Fired? and Hydro One Was Wrong to Fire Hooligan Employee). In particular, I’ve argued that while it is often satisfying to see some idiot fired over their bad behaviour, we should be cautious about endorsing such moves by employers. For one thing, we should be cautious about endorsing the intrusion of our employers into our private (or at least, non-work) lives. For another thing, there are too few checks on employers’ power: when people are fired for off-duty behaviour, there’s a chance that this sort of punishment will be capricious, and disproportionate. It is, in short, a rather rough sort of justice….

What do you think?


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About Chris MacDonald

I'm a philosopher who teaches at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, Canada. Most of my scholarly research is on business ethics and healthcare ethics.

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