Company Fires Bicyclist Who Flipped Off Trump

juli-briskman1Juli Briskman is out of a job.  The 50-year-old mother of two became a national hero for anti-Trump advocates when she gave President Donald Trump the middle finger as she bicycled along a road in Sterling, Virginia.  Trump was returning from a golf game when he encountered the middle fingered salute. Now, her employer government contractor Akima LLC has fired her in a move that she says is both political and arbitrary.  Briskman was a marketing and communications employee for Akima and the company clearly decided that flipping off the President was not an optimal marketing strategy for a government contractor.  Brishman only worked for the company for six months.


We have previously discussed the issue of when it is appropriate to punishment people for conduct outside of the work place. We have followed cases where people have been fired after boorish or insulting conduct once their names and employers are made known. (here and here and here and here).

I find Briskman’s profane gesture to be obnoxious and disrespectful. However, it is also political speech and was not connected to the company.  However, Briskman did not post the picture and on the following Monday went to her supervisors to warn them about the story building on the Internet.  The company promptly fired her and said that she violated the company’s social media policy by using the photo as her profile picture on Twitter and Facebook.  However, she noted that these social media sites did not mention the company, though her Linkedin page does refer to the company.

Screen Shot 2017-11-06 at 11.31.42 PM says that Briskman is actually a Sunday school teacher. She is a graduate of is a graduate of Ohio State University, Johns Hopkins and Georgetown University. She also participated in the march against Trump before his inauguration and carried a sign outside with CIA building with a sign that said, “Not my President.”

Briskman raises a troubling accusation that a male colleague had posted lewd comments on Facebook that actually feature the company but was not fired. He was allowed to simply delete the post calling someone “a fucking Libtard asshole” and received a reprimand.

It is concerning that an employee can be fired for posting an image on a site not connected to or referring to a company. There is a growing fear that companies have become “little brothers” who can punish employees for their political associations and activities.   However, this is an “at-will” employment state and her notoriety had pulled the company into a national controversy.


As will come as no surprise to many on this blog, I would prefer that the company refrain from punishing political speech despite my view of Briskman as engaging in a juvenile act.  However, this is no easy case.  The Constitution’s free speech protections are directed at government action not private action.  As a government contractor, Akima did not want to be associated with someone who showed open contempt for the President of the United States.  Briskman still maintains that she is proud of her display and conduct.

Her Facebook still proudly features the picture.

Where do you think the line should be drawn?

200 thoughts on “Company Fires Bicyclist Who Flipped Off Trump”

  1. Facebook is not YOUR friend. When you start axing middle class, upper middle-class, and upper class working mothers without odd colored hair who volunteer in Sunday Schools for flipping the bird, good things will not follow for the right wing. The ‘Arab Spring’ started when a cart vendor in Tunesia was fined to the breaking point by their version of a meter maid. The social disruption is not worth it.
    —- Trivia part 2. Unemployment is down to a low of 4.1 official percent, without wage gains: Is there going to be backlash?

  2. It must have been planned in advance. Surprising that the Secret Service didn’t take her down as a potential threat to the President.

    Some people feel that they have no other way to influence public policy other than by public displays such as this. Certainly letters and phone calls to political representatives cannot possibly have any effect when that representative is supposed to represent a million people with a million different interests.

    1. It must have been planned in advance.

      By whom?

      Some people feel

      Big f***ing deal.

  3. Initially I was on the side of a reprimand and keeping the job. However, Darren Smith makes a very good point about a toxic employee infecting co-workers. One simply does not bring political activism to the workplace. Sacking her was the smart thing to do.

    1. Granted. What is the right trying to do? Win elections, and keep power. Or give the free speech issues back to the left as a wedge issue. If you want to make corportations’ HR into the ‘Heavy’, you are not going to win the independents need to keep power. If you want a buttoned-up, Puritanical employment enviroment, you are going to get Japan. I do not know if you are into free overtime and working yourself to death? It is about nuances. Strategy is about Machiavellian tactics and dividing your opponent: the moderate opponents, and the radical opponets. Middle aged, church going mothers with normal haircolor from the Rust Belt (Ohio is her college <—-new Trump Territory).

  4. I don’t think the woman should be fired. I don’t agree with her, but I don’t think she should be fired. If she acts like this on the job, to me that would cause disruptions in the work place. I think if she was for Trump to the level she hates him, I wouldn’t want to spend 40 hours a week with this woman.

  5. She put a finger up and down. Wow. It’s not like she dodged the draft numerous times, insulted all POWs, and now controls the military.

    1. Trump never dodged the draft except in the imagination of lying progtrash. He had a student deferment of which hundreds of thousands were issued every year (again, 47% of the age cohorts who were draft eligible between 1964 and 1973 had some time in higher education, and 11% were deferred at any one time). He then was granted a I-Y deferment. Such deferments were temporary and contingent and about 14% of a typical male age cohort received one. I knew a fellow who was issued one for eczema on his insteps. He wasn’t anyone influential. Trump was then subject to the 1969 draft lottery. Like about 3/4 of the people subject to it, his number was high enough that he was not summoned for another induction physical. Get it through your head: 62% of those who were of an age to serve during that era either remained in civilian life or they spent the entire time in the National Guard, the Coast Guard, or the Reserves (with the former far more common than the latter). Their service records were perfectly in order. They weren’t called up because the military at the time did not have unlimited manpower requirements. You’re effectively accusing about 9 million men of having ‘dodged the draft’.

      The three notables in presidential politics with known problems in their service records are Pat Robertson, Bilge Clinton, and Bernie Sanders. There are a few others (Bill Bradley, Alan Keyes & c) whose biography in this respect has lacunae the media never explored. There is surviving documentary and testimonial evidence (not all reliable) that Pat Robertson’s father (then in Congress) pulled strings to get him reassigned to less hazardous duty. Bilge Clinton successfully executed a series of maneuvers which allowed him to shirk his ROTC service obligations. Bernie Sanders when he lost his graduate school deferment hired a lawyer to press a bogus claim for CO status. The lawyer managed to gum up the deliberations of Sanders’ draft board for two years, by which time Sanders had aged out of the draft.

      Progressives lie. All the time and about everything.

  6. She is clearly not much of a strategic thinker, if she was she never would have flipped the President off. If it is an at-will employment state, then she is gone. She could blow her nose wrong and it would be the same thing. They really do not need a reason. However, bringing a company into disrepute does put you in the cross-hairs.

    1. Ah, you beat me to it re: strategic thinking. Sometimes a deep breath and counting to 10 prevents all sorts of mischief.

      1. Cape Cod and Paul, One can also use their brain and find an acceptable way of flipping someone off. My brother used to flip his teachers off all the time. When they became annoying he would adjust the bridge of his glasses with his middle finger.

        1. Allan – as a teacher I flipped of a couple of students over the years. 😉 You should have seen how shocked they were. 🙂

          1. Paul, that would have been a sight to see. Allan, I preferred to show my teacher my displeasure by asking questions the teacher clearly didn’t want/wasn’t prepared to answer. Of course, for those not optically impaired, the “scratching your cheek with your middle finger” trick works.

            1. In college when I was young and dumb I had a teacher in a science that didn’t know what she was doing. She tried to snow me with calculus, but I had had more mathematics then she ever saw. I was a bit insulting and should have been more polite, but I was paying a lot of money for my education. She was a nice lady so nothing happened to me.

              Experience taught me to think. Why would a woman with that low-quality knowledge be teaching a course she knew nothing about? Then I found out. She was married to the chairman of the department. I learned more from that incident then I did from most of my courses. From that experience, I learned to think several levels deeper.

              1. Allan – as a paying customer, I always expected to get my monies worth out of every class. So, if the teacher assigned a book, I expected them to read the book and I read the whole book in depth. Then I came prepared with lots of questions. I hated the ones who just used their notes from when they took the course in college to teach the course. I taught them to respect new knowledge. 🙂

                1. I studied the hard sciences so I expected those teaching me to already know the subject matter backward and forward. Too many grad student teaching assistants that only knew one line of thinking.

                  1. Allan – I only had one grad student as a teacher and I challenged the grade she gave me. Didn’t do any good, but my rant felt good.

                    1. I flunked a chemistry test according to the grad student. I explained why his solution was poor and he couldn’t completely follow the logic. I went to the chairman who gave me a 100 and told me the curriculum and book would change for the next semester. They had lowered the standards including the use of a simpler book that relied upon memorization because too many people were failing organic chemistry. Therefore the solution from that text was inadequate and the book was thrown out from then on. He realized he was penalizing the best chemistry students who might end up in grad school with insufficient knowledge.

              2. Allan, that’s an important, albeit crummy, lesson to learn. I had a similar experience when I went to grad school and started auditing classes at the B school.

                1. It may have been a crummy lesson, but taught me to always question why. That lesson was worthwhile and fortunately, nothing happened to me since the chair of the department seemed to recognize his wife’s deficiencies. She was a nice lady.

  7. The “middle fighter” is protected by the first amendment, is it not?” If so, then she was fired for exercising it.

    1. No one stopped her from making an idiot of herself (her right). They are are just stopping supporting her to do it (their right).

    2. “The “middle fighter” is protected by the first amendment, is it not?” If so, then she was fired for exercising it.”

      James, Are you trying to say the other fingers don’t have protected status? How about your toes? If instead of using the middle finger a man exercised what is between his two legs, do you think that would have protected status? In essence, the middle finger and that finger like protrusion are saying the same thing so if your logic held both would have protected status.

  8. The Bird, Bird, …
    Bird is the word.
    Don’t you know about the bird?
    Everybody knows that the bird is the word.

  9. She presents another example of the folly of hiring those who’s lives are completely consumed by politics. I’ve noted over the years that they tend make for bad employees because they are continually arguing and spend too much time on personal matters outside the job they are employed to perform. They also will eventually bring in drama which becomes a distraction and this tends to polarize other employees. In short, they are troublemakers.

    The link in the article above to The Guardian presented this gem:

    Briskman, who votes Democratic, said she planned to look for a new job with an advocacy group she believes in, such as Planned Parenthood or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

    I propose she came to the conclusion that she irradiated herself and most conventional employers will refuse to consider making her a job offer. But, she can hope her politics will be an asset to her and rescue her from her own undoing.

    That would be the best outcome for her; employment in liberal organizations that want employees who can lash out with a passion. With her personality I suspect it will only be a matter of time before she rubs them the wrong way and she gets herself sacked again.

    Career Limiting Moves

  10. It’s not worth the risk having her as an employee. Someone else can fulfill her position without the drama. It’s best not to bite the hand that feeds you, whether it be an employer or a customer.

  11. Heavy dot com article:

    “Online records show that Akima was a contributor to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. The company’s Bloomberg profile says that Akima is led by CEO Bill Monet.

    “The company was founded in Hendon, Virginia, in 2012. The company says it is a leader in “information technology products and services, data communications, systems and sofware engineering, facilities management and outfitting, cyber security, space operations, aviation, construction, fabrication and logistics.””

  12. The Company owns her skill and expertise, for which she is paid. It does not own her body and soul, or political allegiance. The Company’s rights end where hers, as a free person, begin. She has the perfect right to make an arse of herself, if she so desires, I feel that the likes of Mary would be perfectly comfortable in Huxley’s Brave New World.

  13. A bus driver in the Seattle area flipped off Little Bush and the Rep Reichart (sp?) – hard right GOP type for the district called up the company and leaned on them hard and got the driver fired –

  14. You make your company look bad, you’re outta there. She behaved disgracefully, and also, as some famous dude once, said, “stupidly.”

  15. AMEN Ash, AMEN! I’m proud of her and all like her. I would do the same, face to face with the sociopath fascist. Her former employer wasn’t deserving of intelligent people like her.


    1. sgtsabai, If this is your mindset in the workplace I wouldn’t hire you if you were talking about Trump or Obama.

      1. And I wouldn’t work for you. I kept my politics out of the work place, my private life is no damn business of my employeer. BTW, I’m retired and I can say what the hell I damn well please without having an employeer try to tell me how to live my life. Oh and I mean what I say. I went to jail for speaking truth to the power about the American War in Vietnam. Relieased by Justice William O. Douglas.

        USMC Sgt-Vietnam 1966/67
        Vietnam Veterans Against the War

        1. “And I wouldn’t work for you.”

          That is mutually acceptable and how the marketplace works. Mutual self-interest. I expect very high-quality work and I provide salaries that are up to double the normal rate of pay. I value my employees because they add to my productivity and protect my back. I do likewise.

          I am glad you live your life and not someone else’s. You weren’t the Sgt that declared CO status during that war that went before the Supreme Court, were you? Respect for the flag (soldiers died defending it), the nation (not perfect but good) and the people of this nation along with dissent is totally American. It sounds more like you said something untoward while in the military and I seem to recollect a few cases. Can you help me revive my memory?

  16. She was well within her rights to flip the President off, and she didn’t post the picture.

    Her former employers should go to hell.

    1. She’s within her rights contra public agencies. She does not have an enforceable entitlement to her position with a private employer. They concluded she was a liability and it’s goodbye tootsie.

    2. “She was well within her rights to flip the President off, and she didn’t post the picture. Her former employers should go to hell.”

      Ash, let’s assume the woman flipped off the CEO of the major buyer of her company’s products. Let’s assume the CEO is a spiteful man and now buys that product from an alternative company.

      That impacts the bottom line of the woman’s company so the owner has to let go of a lot of employees that had nothing to do with that woman. Is that fair to the other employees that were newly fired? Under those circumstances, would you have fired the woman so that the other employees could keep their jobs?

      Don’t think of the individual people involved because their names can change from example to example. Think of the principle involved and how that principle is based upon the ultimate survival of the company which is based on the owner’s decisions.

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