Patricia McAllister was a substitute teacher working for the L.A. School District when she appeared at an Occupy LA rally and expressed some anti-Semitic views. Subsequently she was fired. Because she was a non-union “at-will” employee the termination was legal.
Professor Jacobson at Legal Insurrection asks whether she should have been fired:
The easy answer would be sure, fire her, she’s a despicable person.
But, her comments were not made at school. And while there’s no doubt that she is an anti-Semite, we’ve also seen hundreds of times here how the race card falsely is played against conservatives.
We’ve seen examples where the most innocuous use of words which sound like other words can lead to charges of racism, and of course, how criticism of Obama’s policies is deemed racist. Indeed, the entire Tea Party movement falsely has been condemned as racist.
If being racist (or anti-Semitic) completely outside one’s job is a ground for being fired, then how do we distinguish between charges of racism and false charges of racism. Who decides?
Donald Douglas, who has been the subject of attempts to get him fired from his job, writes:
The district’s decision reaches into the realm of personal space. And it should not. This is tyranny.
Admittedly this is a tough one, but I agree. So long as it’s completely outside the workplace and does not impact one’s ability to perform the job, what stays outside of work should stay outside of work.
Clearly what she said is protected by the First Amendment. She didn’t break any laws. Should any employer be allowed to fire an employee for legal activity on their own time? What about a public employer?
How would you craft a policy that prohibits racist speech by an employee on their own time that wouldn’t prohibit expressing opinions on issues like abortion and gay marriage?
Legal Insurrection has a poll.