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. The line is sometimes a fine one, but it is a line nevertheless, between disciplining someone because of their speech (or conduct akin to speech) and disciplining someone because s/he is either too stupid or lacks sufficient self-control to do the job.

  2. Interesting that her two employment choices are an organization that murders unborn babies, and an organization that tries to save every living non-human creature on the planet. How is it possible to hold both positions of advocacy simultaneously?

    1. Foxtrot, I find your statement thought provoking. If one takes the position that the employer should not be permitted to use her statement against her (firing her) then I have to wonder if either of those two organizations should be permitted to use that same statement in hiring her?

    2. It is when one is status-lowering in and among your social circle and the other is not. People often don’t make much sense and middle-aged women tend to be below the median on the sense-meter. Antagonism to Planned Parenthood makes you one of THEM, and them put some principled limits on the willfulness of people (especially women) hopping from bed to bed with the frequency of a cheap ham radio.

  3. Wherever this president, or another for that matter, shows his face, gestures of this sort are seen and the perpetrators are not fired for it. Her crime seems to be that she did it on her own.

    Too bad she doesn’t have a union to speak up for her in another example of men getting away with something and women being punished for less. I think there needs to be a union of all working women, across all occupations, that negotiate for them for equal pay, child care provisions, maternity/family leave, and equa ltreatment in all things…

    1. Call the waaahmbulance. If you don’t like the going rate in your trade, enroll in training and find another one. Very cumbersome, to be sure, which is why you should choose wisely and try to make your mistakes while young.

    2. “I think there needs to be a union of all working women, across all occupations, that negotiate for them for equal pay, child care provisions, maternity/family leave, and equa ltreatment in all things…”

      Are you proposing urinals in the ladies room?

  4. If she were my employee unless I had other reasons I probably wouldn’t fire her. However, it’s the owners choice to protect his company and all the other employees that work there. Each employee has a value that is represented by the check they receive every week. It appears the woman’s value fell below the value of the check.

    1. Allan – it is possible she was already on the bubble and this just tipped it.

  5. Juli Briskman should also be interviewed by the Secret Service. Because most of the mass shooters are registered Democrats.

    In 1865 a Democrat shot and killed Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States.
    In 1881 a left wing radical Democrat shot James Garfield, President of the United States – who later died from the wound.
    In 1963 a radical left wing socialist shot and killed John F. Kennedy, President of the United States.
    In 1975 a left wing radical Democrat fired shots at Gerald Ford, President of the United States.
    In 1983 a registered Democrat shot and wounded Ronald Reagan, President of the United States.
    In 1984 James Hubert, a disgruntled Democrat, shot and killed 22 people in a McDonalds restaurant.
    In 1986 Patrick Sherrill, a disgruntled Democrat, shot and killed 15 people in an Oklahoma post office.
    In 1990 James Pough, a disgruntled Democrat, shot and killed 10 people at a GMAC office.
    In 1991 George Hennard, a disgruntled Democrat, shot and killed 23 people in a Luby’s cafeteria in Killeen , TX.
    In 1995 James Daniel Simpson, a disgruntled Democrat, shot and killed 5 coworkers in a Texas laboratory.
    In 1999 Larry Asbrook, a disgruntled Democrat, shot and killed 8 people at a church service.
    In 2001 a left wing radical Democrat fired shots at the White House in a failed attempt to kill George W. Bush, President of the US …
    In 2003 Douglas Williams, a disgruntled Democrat, shot and killed 7 people at a Lockheed Martin plant.
    In 2007 a registered Democrat named Seung – Hui Cho, shot and killed 32 people in Virginia Tech.
    In 2010 a mentally ill registered Democrat named Jared Lee Loughner, shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed 6 others.
    In 2011 a registered Democrat named James Holmes, went into a movie theater and shot and killed 12 people.
    In 2012 Andrew Engeldinger, a disgruntled Democrat, shot and killed 7 people in Minneapolis.
    In 2013 a registered Democrat named Adam Lanza, shot and killed 26 people in a school in Newtown , CT.
    As recently as Sept 2013, an angry Democrat shot 12 at a Navy ship yard.
    Clearly, there is a problem with Democrats and guns.

    1. Remember, just because someone wrote it doesn’t make it true. Just a few facts to start you off: John Wilkes Booth was a member of the Know-Nothing Party; there is no evidence that Lee Harvey Oswald, Seung Hui-Cho (a resident alien), or James Holmes were registered democrats; and Loughner was a registered Independent. Maybe you double check the others as well before posting this list anywhere else.

  6. She could always just go out and tackle a Senator today since she doesn’t have anything to do. Doesn’t seem like there is much to worry about as much as repercussions go. I’ll have to compare PA and MD Senators, don’t know which one would be better. It just doesn’t seem to me to be as much fun blindsiding one though. Open field situation would be more fun. A more puny one might be more fun, especially if you have a bunch of guys who can dive on top… (don’t think that, I’m not relating to hollywood…)

  7. OT sort of–freedom of speech not seen in US reporting:

    “The classified embassy cable, written in Hebrew, constitutes the first formal evidence proving that the Saudis and Israelis are deliberately coordinating to escalate the situation in the Middle East.

    The explosive classified Israeli cable reveals the following:

    On Sunday, just after Lebanese PM Hariri’s shocking resignation, Israel sent a cable to all of its embassies with the request that its diplomats do everything possible to ramp up diplomatic pressure against Hezbollah and Iran.
    The cable urged support for Saudi Arabia’s war against Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen.
    The cable stressed that Iran was engaged in “regional subversion”.
    Israeli diplomats were urged to appeal to the “highest officials” within their host countries to attempt to expel Hezbollah from Lebanese government and politics.”

    Reported on Israel’s Channel 10 by a very brave reporter.

    1. I don’t even think they try to hard to hide that stuff anymore. I’m sure we’re in the middle of it somewhere. Maybe they got Kerry over there making some YouTube videos… or the BBC… or, any of the other MSM…

      1. Serious question: why do you consider zerohedge a “crank site”? I believe it is an aggregator, much like Drudge.

        1. Because it’s a peddler of conspirazoid discourse and disaster discourse, all by people writing under pseudonyms.

    2. Jill, thanks for posting this – you are right in describing the reporter as brave. SA and Israel – two despotic states – no wonder they are coming together! The citizens of these countries, like us, have no say in the matter. Let’s just hope that yet another conflict doesn’t happen. Israel is still smarting from having their arses kicked by Hezbollah….

  8. I didn’t know there was such a thing as an “at will” state. Awesome. Wonder what California is called …. “At no chance”?

    Sent from Enid’s iPad


  9. I don’t see how a private industry is responsible for protecting this woman’s First Amendment rights. She exercised her rights and the company exercised their prerogative not have someone who shows contempt for the POTUS in public, employed by them.
    Is everyone an “arm of the government”?

  10. Saw the photo, looks like she should have received a ticket for not holding her line in traffic. People like her make us cyclists look bad. She is not in control of her machine, and that jeep was closing in on her. I guess SJWs feel invincible and don’t have to fear several tons of steel moving at high speed.

  11. I have myself and have had friends that worked for companies or individuals where they were forbidden from using social platforms *at all*. I think this woman has shown she can’t be an adult and it is her company’s prerogative on how to address that. Sometimes the motive is what stands out addressing,and motive can say an awful lot about a person. Oftentimes a single act is truly just a bad choice in the moment, this doesn’t strike me as one of those times.

  12. Turley has turned into a tired old conservative in the vain of Grassley, Hatch and the other old farts out of touch with the younger generation. Turley does not comprehend people are disgusted with this nasty, misogynistic, let alone moron, in the Whtie House. Thank God for Lawrence Tribe.

    1. Lawrence Tribe’s an academic shyster in his 70s and this woman is not young. She’s 50 years old an puerile. The ‘younger generation’ would do well to learn from the older, who have something to teach them.

  13. Boy, for a civil libertarian, you are certainly sounding opportunistic here, Counsellor.

    Defend speech, or don’t, but CHOOSE!

    PS: interesting choice of photograph to accompany your post; it’s almost as though you want her to be id’d.

    1. Again, she is not a public employee. You have no right of ‘free speech’ contra your employer. Granting you one in statutory law unduly restricts your employer’s freedom of contract and freedom of association.

      1. I support your perspective, legally. But “at will” cuts both ways. Companies are backing off from enforcing their own employment contracts once the story goes viral. Public outrage, spurred on by the media, costs them at the bottom line. Will her employer be tougher than the NFL?

  14. She’s free to speak but so is her at will employer. She obviously miscalculated her net tangible benefit to this company. I’m curious to know what Bible lesson she will use to explain her behavior in Sunday school.

  15. N.B. She was likely a probationary employee. You need to build a relationship with your employer and it helps if you have discrete skills they do not wish to lose. IT trumps ‘strategic thinking and stellar content’.

  16. Employee at will NOTHING more needs to be said. Company has the RIGHT to fire her. You can have an opinion about whether they SHOULD have fired her. But, your opinion doesn’t matter.

    1. The term ‘corporate welfare’ does not mean what you think it means. She works for a government contractor. As long as the contracts do not have contrived specs, are awarded consequent to sealed bids, and provide administrative support or services properly executed by public agencies, it’s just business.

        1. It’s not ‘all the same’ and you being obtuse doesn’t make it all the same.

  17. “Her former employer should go to hell.”

    Her former employee is a government contractor – the President is their client.

    She is 50 years old – maturity eludes her and her like-thinking entitled social justice warriors. But, you know, she had “feelings” she had to “feel.”

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