Julie Briskman was cycling home in Northern Virginia when the presidential motorcade drove past. One split-second decision later, she flipped off the procession in protest and became internet famous.
She also lost her job.
On Halloween, after confirming her identity as the cyclist, Briskman was fired from her job at Akima, a government contracting firm.
“I wasn’t even at work when I did that,” Briskman said. “But they told me I violated the code-of-conduct policy.”
She said her bosses escorted her out of the building with a box of her things after showing "her the blue-highlighted Section 4.3 of the firm's social media policy when they canned her."
“Covered Social Media Activity that contains discriminatory, obscene malicious or threatening content, is knowingly false, create [sic] a hostile work environment, or similar inappropriate or unlawful conduct will not be tolerated and will be subject to discipline up to an [sic] including termination of employment.”
According to The Washington Post, Briskman was not wearing any clothing that carried her company logo. Nothing that would link her to Akima. There is also nothing on her personal social media accounts that can connect her to them.
The only social account that links Briskman to Akima is her LinkedIn profile, but she did not post the photo there.
This is pretty ironic, considering Briskman "found a public comment by a senior director at the company in an otherwise civil discussion ... about the Black Lives Matter Movement" during her six-month tenure at Akima. This post linked Akima to some pretty nasty stuff.
Briskman flagged the comment and brought it to the attention of senior management. The senior director who made the comment was then told to clean up his act. "He cleaned up the comment, spit-shined his public profile and kept on trucking at work."
Unfortunately, Briskman was not so lucky. Bradley Shear, a Bethesda lawyer who specializes in social media cases, says her only true mistake was being honest about her identity. According to Shear, the company took "into account how the image ... looks and whether it may draw negative attention or threats."
Briskman has since been in contact with the American Civil Liberties Union.