Last month, Democrat Juli Briskman was riding her bike alongside President Donald J. Trump’s motorcade in Virginia. Seizing the moment, Briskman flipped him the bird (see photo below). Unfortunately for her, the gesture was captured in a photograph that later went viral, leading to her being fired from her job with a government contractor.
President Trump was on his way back to the White House after leaving his Virginia golf club when his motorcade rolled past Briskman, infuriating the 50-year-old marketing executive.
“He was passing by and my blood just started to boil,” Briskman told the Huffington Post. “I’m thinking, DACA recipients are getting kicked out. He pulled ads for open enrollment in Obamacare. Only one-third of Puerto Rico has power. I’m thinking, he’s at the damn golf course again.”
She added: “I flipped off the motorcade a number of times.”
Briskman’s “salute” to the president was captured by photographer Brendan Smialowski for Agence France-Presse and Getty Images. Released on the internet, the impulsive image went viral.
Briskman decided she had to tell her employer, Akima LLC, about the photo. The next day, she says, she was fired.
Her bosses told her she had violated the company’s social media policy when the image was used as her profile picture on Facebook and Twitter. Her bosses at Akima showed her the section of their social media policy which applied to her conduct.
It says: “Covered Social Media Activity that contains discriminatory, obscene malicious or threatening content, is knowingly false, create [sic] a hostile work environment, or similar inappropriate or unlawful conduct will not be tolerated and will be subject to discipline up to [and] including termination of employment.”
Briskman seemed stunned that her employers would find her gesture obscene.
“They said, ‘We’re separating from you,’” Briskman said. “Basically, you cannot have ‘lewd’ or ‘obscene’ things in your social media. So, they were calling flipping him off ‘obscene.’”
Briskman argues that she was not working when the photo was taken and that Akima is not mentioned on her Facebook or Twitter pages. She does identify herself as an Akima employee on her LinkedIn account; however, the picture is not visible on that platform.
Akima maintains that the image could hurt their business, according to Briskman.
Instead of trying to get #AkimaLLC to rehire Juli Briskman, let’s get her a job with a company that will support her rights.
Anyone hiring? pic.twitter.com/Io8J1HyyK3
— Red T Raccoon (@RedTRaccoon) November 6, 2017