In case you aren’t aware, Juli Briskman is the lady who gave the PotUS’ motorcade (and him too, I guess) the one finger salute back in October of 2017. Personally, I don’t agree with saluting the draft-dodging Cheeto, but if you’re going to do it, the middle finger is the way to go. Anyway, the photo of her performing this act (above) went viral on the Internet and Ms. Briskman became the latest online sensation. One month later, after informing her employer, she lost her job at Akima LLC (a government contractor). Depending on where you read the story and who is telling it, she was either fired, or they came to an agreement to terminate her employment for violating the company’s social media policy. I tend to believe the later is true because of a reason I’ll touch on shortly.
— juli_briskman (@julibriskman) April 4, 2018
Here, Ms. Briskman claims she was fired but other sources state that she was asked to resign. Some of you may be saying, “what’s the difference?” Well, if you’re fired, especially for what the company deems misconduct or behavior that they feel may be detrimental to the business, you don’t typically receive severance pay. However, severance pay is one thing she is suing Akima LLC for. Ms. Briskman claims that she was promised 4 weeks of severance pay but was only given 2 weeks worth. According to her lawsuit, Akima LLC asked her to resign rather than have a termination on her record. I’m not about to sit here and tell you that the company did right by her, or that they were looking out for her because they didn’t; they were covering their own asses. They didn’t fire her though. Splitting hairs? Maybe, but Ms. Briskman is in marketing, so she knows that saying, “I got fired” will go a long way in the court of public opinion vs, “I was given a choice and I chose to resign”.
Yes, but I believe there is room for the court to award me damages. Because how much is my right to free speech worth? I would think a lot. But, you are right, this is not really about me. It's about stopping the slide to "Autocratic Capture." #LongMaySheWave
— juli_briskman (@julibriskman) April 4, 2018
Here, she wants to know how much her right to free speech is worth. This is the thing that really got me going. People sue their former employers every day in this country for reasons ranging from justified to absurd, but it’s those people who start talking about free speech that make my blood boil. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states,
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
In a nutshell, this means the government cannot make a law forbidding you from flipping off the PotUS, no matter how much of a dipshit he is. Also, it means the government cannot punish me for calling President Drumpf a dipshit. Did you catch the bolded word? That’s correct, the First Amendment applies to what the government, not private businesses can and cannot do. I know, I know, Akima LLC is a government contractor. This is correct, but all that means is that government is a client of Akima LLC, not that Akima LLC is the government; they’re not, they are a private company. According to Ms. Briskman, the reason she was asked to leave is because the company was afraid they might lose government contracts because of the photo, but this still isn’t a First Amendment issue because the government did not tell Akima LLC to fire her. As far as we know, the government had no idea it was her in the picture or where she worked. Remember, Akima LLC only found out it was her because she told them.
— juli_briskman (@julibriskman) April 6, 2018
Here we see what this all leads too. Ms. Briskman is only suing for 2 weeks severance pay because that’s about the only thing she has a realistic shot of getting from the courts, assuming she can prove that was the agreement. Virginia is an at-will state. Basically, this means that you can be fired (or quit) for any reason, except for protected classes like race, religion or gender. Ms. Briskman resigned for telling the PotUS to fuck off and like it or not, that is not a protected class.
On Ms. Briskman’s website, you can read her bio, get a timeline of the famous middle finger and, yep, you guessed it, buy t-shirts. Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with her profiting from this event, hell, that’s the American way. However, Ms. Briskman is misleading you to get your money. According to ICANN, the domain name, longmayshewave.net, was registered on 30 November 2017. That’s 4+ months before Ms. Briskman filed her lawsuit. According to her bio on the site, Ms. Briskman holds an “MBA in Marketing from Johns Hopkins University and a professional certificate in digital marketing from Georgetown University“…basically, this woman can sell ice cubes to the Inuit people. The Reader’s Digest condensed version of events are as follows:
- Ms. Briskman is out riding her bike when the President’s motorcade passes her
- She takes the opportunity to do what many of us would have done or want to do
- Photo is taken of middle finger and it goes vial on the Internet
- Ms. Briskman notifies her employer, Akima LLC, a private company who handles government jobs
- Ms. Briskman is asked to resign
- Ms. Briskman uses her marketing education and experience and starts a website to strike while the iron is hot
- 4 months later, Ms. Briskman files lawsuit against her former company
Why the gap between #6 and #7 when the timeline from 1-6 is only about a month? Well, I’m only speculating here, but it seems like the money wasn’t rolling in like Ms. Briskman was hoping for and her marketing senses kicked in. What could drum up support and more traffic to her site? Of course, more news coverage, but how does she get more news coverage? Yep, sue her former employer and twist the story to make it sound like she’s the victim. Did it work? Well, I can’t speak for the rest of the world, but I never heard about this until the news starting covering her lawsuit, and being an IT professional, I spend 10+ hours a day on the Internet.
I’ve got nothing against her making a buck or two, but the First Amendment is there to protect people; it doesn’t exist for you to wrap yourself in the flag and make a profit, especially when your freedom of speech was not infringed upon. Acts like this cheapen the Constitution.
Ms. Briskman, you can walk outside your door this very minute and tell the PotUS to suck a fart, but it is not taking away your right to free speech if your Trump loving neighbor rescinds your invite to the pancake social.