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Capitol riots: Some companies are firing workers who took part

AP/Washington
Filed on January 9, 2021

(Reuters)

Rioters who stormed US Capitol now face backlash at work.

A printing company in Maryland saw the photo on Twitter Wednesday night: an employee roaming the halls of the US Capitol with a company badge around his neck. He was fired the next day.

Others are facing similar repercussions at work for their participation in Wednesday’s riot at the US Capitol. Some business owners are being trashed on social media and their establishments boycotted, while rank-and-file employees at other businesses have been fired.

The printing company, Navistar Direct Marketing, declined to name the worker but said it can’t offer employment to people “demonstrating dangerous conduct 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 met to confirm the Electoral College results and President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. People on social media have been trying to identify rioters photographed or filmed at the Capitol Wednesday, pressuring companies that employ them to fire them.

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

“This decision was made because Rukstales’ actions were inconsistent with the core values of Cogensia,” said newly-named acting CEO Joel Schiltz in a statement. “Cogensia condemns what occurred at the U.S. 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 weren’t returned.

A Cleveland school 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 its firefighters was being investigated for his participation. Sanford Fire Department firefighter Andy Williams has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome, said spokeswoman Bianca Gillett.

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





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