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More Capitol Hill Rioters Face Firings Back at Work

2021-01-12 17:15:54
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A print shop in Maryland saw the photo on Twitter Wednesday evening: an employee was wandering the corridors of the U.S. Capitol with a company badge around his neck. He was fired the next day.

Others are facing similar consequences at work for their participation in last Wednesday's riot at the Capitol. Some entrepreneurs are trashed on social media and their branches are boycotted, while ordinary employees of other companies have been laid off.

The printing company, Navistar Direct Marketing, declined to name the employee, but said it cannot provide employment for people who "engage in dangerous behavior that endangers the health and safety of others."

More than 90 people have been arrested since Wednesday when loyalists to outgoing President Donald Trump disrupted lawmakers as they gathered to confirm the results of the Electoral College and President-elect Joe Biden's victory. People on social media have been trying to identify rioters who were photographed or filmed in the Capitol on Wednesday, pressuring companies that employ them to fire them.

At a data analytics company in a suburb of Chicago, the employee in question was the top boss. Cogensia fired CEO Bradley Rukstales on Friday night for his participation in the riot.

"This decision was made because Rukstales' actions were in violation of Cogensia's core values," newly appointed acting CEO Joel Schiltz said in a statement. "Cogensia condemns what happened in the US Capitol on Wednesday, and we intend to continue to embrace the values ​​of integrity, diversity and transparency in our business operations, and expect all employees to embrace those values ​​as well."

Rukstales, who was arrested for unlawful entry, told a local CBS news channel that he had entered the Capitol and apologized for his role in the events. Calls and emails to Rukstales were not answered.

A Cleveland occupational therapist resigned from the district after her alleged involvement in the riot. A spokeswoman for a fire department near Orlando, Florida, said one of the firefighters was under investigation for his participation. Sanford Fire Department firefighter Andy Williams has been given paid administrative leave pending the outcome, spokeswoman Bianca Gillett said.

Most private employers can fire employees for attending protests, since First Amendment rights prohibit people from being punished only by the government for their speech, not by a private employer, said Susan Kline, an Indianapolis-based labor and lawyer. employment attorney at law firm Faegre Drinker. .

There are some exceptions: those who work for the government may be better protected by law, and so are many union workers, who are usually under contracts with the reasons why they could be fired. And some states may have laws that protect workers' freedom of speech.

But "what people did on the Capitol on Wednesday was riot, not protest," said Aaron Holt, an employment and employment attorney at law firm Cozen O'Connor. "When someone breaks the law, it will almost never be protected, and a private employer will be within their right to take disciplinary action or take some form of action in response that may violate its core core values."

Small businesses are also facing backlash on online review sites like Yelp, which flagged at least 20 businesses for unusual review activity related to Wednesday's riots.

One company, Becky & # 39; s Flowers in Midland, Texas, is owned by Jenny Cudd, a former mayoral candidate who posted a video to Facebook bragging about breaking into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office. On Friday, Cudd's flower shop was inundated with dozens of one-star reviews calling her a traitor and domestic terrorist, along with photos of her in the Capitol.

Cudd later said in a video message to The Associated Press that she did not personally enter Pelosi & # 39; s office or see people break open the door, and when she said "we," she meant all the people who were at the Capitol. She said she had done nothing violent or destroyed property.

& # 39; I walked into the Capitol through an open door along with a few hundred other people, & # 39; Cudd said.

She added that she had "received several death threats, along with thousands of one-star reviews from around the country from people who have never visited my company."

Insurance Journal reported that the CEO of Goosehead Insurance fired an employee after seeing a video of him during the riot.

Yelp has flagged businesses for unusual review activity after less blatant but still controversial events. Reviewers raged on the Yelp page of Virginia restaurant The Red Hen after it kicked off former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders from its founding a few years ago. And commentators from left and right bombarded Big Apple Pizza's Yelp page with political beliefs after former President Barack Obama was enthusiastically embraced by a customer there.

Social media has put people on the map for their involvement in activities outside of the workplace, putting them in trouble with their employers. In 2017, after a white racist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, many posted photos on social media of those who participated, leading in some cases to their firing.

In Louisiana, customers said they would boycott supermarket chain Rouses Market after retired owner Donald Rouse was shown in a photo during Wednesday's riot. Rouse said in an email statement that he attended the meeting as a supporter of the president, but left before the violence started.

“I am shocked by the violence and destruction we saw yesterday and the pain it has caused so much,” said Rouse. "Our country urgently needs to come together to heal, and I will do everything I can to be part of that process."

The Krewe of Red Beans, a group that organizes pageants, posted on Instagram that it would return $ 20,000 in donations it received from the market.

Top photo: Trump supporters walk past the Dome of the Capitol Building in Washington on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. (AP Photo / Andrew Harnik)

Copyright 2021 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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