What to Do If Capitol Hill Rioter Also Happens to Be an Employee

by Evil HR Lady on January 8, 2021

This week’s protest, which led to an invasion of the US Capitol Building, was something that the world watched in horror. How much more horrifying would it be if you recognized someone climbing the Capitol wall or ripping something out of a congressional chamber–and that person was your employee?

Can you fire someone for that?

Well, maybe. 

Suspend and investigate

You may think you have all the information you need with a snapshot you saw on Instagram. You might. But, it doesn’t hurt to suspend first while you conduct a thorough investigation. 

To keep reading, click here: What to Do If Capitol Hill Rioter Also Happens to Be an Employee

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

grannybunny January 8, 2021 at 1:01 pm

I think that if you saw someone actually “climbing the Capitol wall or ripping something out of a congressional chamber” — or other equally criminal seditious behavior — you’d be pretty safe in firing them, absent a case of mistaken identity. Who wants to work with a terrorist? On the other hand, people are free to attend political rallies, or other events, to demonstrate or protest, and to engage in other, lawful, politically expressions and activities.

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Just My 2 Cents January 8, 2021 at 3:15 pm

This is from Eric Myer of “The Employer Handbook”, but it’s precisely what I say to people who question these types of company reactions…
“Freedom of speech still exists on social media or otherwise. But, words and acts have consequences. And since at-will employment is still the rule in 49 out of 50 states, it’s no surprise that these notorious, headline-making off-the-clock activities also have consequences at work.”

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Carl Adrian January 18, 2021 at 12:53 am

Loss of US citizenship would certainly be a deterrent for
Illegal activities. For insurrection it could be a term of 10 years and loss of vote privilege.
USAF. Retired NCO

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Belladoux January 8, 2021 at 6:57 pm

I work for a DC based nonprofit and we closed for two days so that our staff would not have to deal with closed streets and possible trouble. Most of our staff are people of color and I can’t imagine what they felt as they watched the insurrection. I agree with Suzanne, that if one of my staff was part of that mob, I would suspend and investigate before pivoting to termination. However, as a faith-based, community center, I think our CEO would have a sit-down with the employee, in person, with a mask.

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jdgalt January 8, 2021 at 7:09 pm

Several states have laws restricting employer retaliation for political activity, which may apply. Here’s a law professor’s article from last summer. https://archive.vn/pXyzz

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James January 12, 2021 at 4:05 pm

If you retaliate because they were at a Republican rally, that would be one thing.

Retaliation against illegal entry into a government building, threatening harm to government officials, carrying zip-ties with which to restrain said officials, participating in an armed mob, possibly planting (and certainly abetting the planting of) explosive devices in government buildings, looting of government property, etc (and remember, that’s just what’s on video)? Any one of those would violate the terms of my employment, regardless of which political party I claimed to be part of.

And if I were an employer, I’d be willing to risk this going to court. It would be really interesting to see the arguments justifying the position that insurrection is not just cause for termination, and it would be useful to society to have this question out in the air. Do we, as a society, want to argue that insurrection and possibly treason don’t warrant just cause for terminating employment? (Remember, I can be fired for smoking the wrong plant, in my own home where I am a danger to no one, when not on the clock.) The termination of employment would be a type of nonviolent civil disobedience–an act intended to bring about a court case and set precedent. (Though I imagine there are precedents in place for insurrection, assault, treason, burglary, and the like.)

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Chris Hogg January 8, 2021 at 10:18 pm
MariaRose January 9, 2021 at 12:29 am

If the employment agreement states that employees can’t participate in any activity that tarnishes the image of the company while under employment, I would say the employer has a means of disciplining action. Because the individual CEO has different views from their employees, they can’t impose those, except for workplace expectations–i.e.–discussions in the workplace, attitude towards others, etc.. Unless it is a labor in the employment contract, just being present at an activity doesn’t warrant immediate termination. Now certain designated activities can warrant discipline actions at work–but it has to known as per labor laws not because your political beliefs are different. Now you can question their actions if their image is publicly displayed but that is grounds for termination.
I hate to put up in this aspect but attending a protest is not the problem here but the reason everyone is bringing this up has to do with TDS. No one made as much of a demand to punish with other types of protests that were more violent in 2020.
Research the situation before you do the termination act just to prove you can be in charge. Of course, you do have recourse if the individual has been proven guilty of criminal acts. Right now it is just hearsay and opinions. Or are we as a society falling into a totalitarianism thinking–no individual has any rights, except those in charge, who think they know everything.Now that sounds very medieval to me, are we going backwards, because if that’s the upcoming future, we all know how that ends.
Yes, a few people did horrendous things and they should be punished but no one else. Stop the hate as immediate firing without detailed unbiased research will cause problems in the workplace in the long run by creating a negative environment. That doesn’t sound like a positive place to work.

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fair January 11, 2021 at 11:13 pm

“other types of protests that were more violent in 2020”

And those would be?

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Millennial Perspective January 12, 2021 at 11:44 pm

I can’t think of a single protest that resulted in the death of a police officer, where there was an active attempt to kill leaders, or where the representatives elect present at the rally were later arrested.

The only leftist protest with deaths was when Rittenhouse, an alt right counter protestor, killed and shot several people.

But … um … Both sides. So there!

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Evil HR Lady January 13, 2021 at 11:22 am

Perhaps you should pay attention to the news. This report is from June. It was just the first thing that came up when I Googled.

https://www.cullmantribune.com/2020/06/06/more-than-400-law-enforcement-officers-injured-in-riots-across-u-s-2-dead/

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grannybunny January 13, 2021 at 3:35 pm

That’s a strange article. It appears to attribute all police deaths to “riots,” even ones not clearly related to any type of protest. It’s unclear how they concluded that 2 were dead as a result, too, since more than 2 police deaths were mentioned in the little blurbs. But, obviously, it’s a false analogy to attempt to equate demonstrations seeking social justice with a traitorous attack on government.

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Texan In Exile January 14, 2021 at 5:37 pm

Preach, grannybunny.

Observer January 17, 2021 at 4:23 am

As it happens, there was plenty of violence at some of the BLM protests – including the march in Houston where 5 officers were killed. (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/09/us/dallas-police-shooting.html)

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grannybunny January 19, 2021 at 6:17 pm

Actually, that happened in Dallas, where I live. The violence wasn’t really a part of the BLM march, which was in the process of disbanding before the shooting started. Rather, the sniper targeted both the marchers and the Police present at the event; some of both groups were hit by the gunfire.

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Geo Mihalache January 11, 2021 at 1:50 pm

Let’s be honest. What happened there and it all went out across the world was a sad setup. Who can believe that in such a well guarded place rioters would be allowed so easily? Come on. They were allowed and invited it. So, chances those people were some company’s employees are zero.

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Millennial Perspective January 11, 2021 at 4:38 pm

Easily? EASILY??? Brian Sicknick is dead! Over 50 officers were injured!!!!

Did the president likely loosen security for his sick agenda? Probably. But don’t you dare suggest they opened the doors and let them in as a trap and that these terrorists are victims.

The USCP were victims. The American people were victims. Our leaders were saved from being victims by the brave USCP. The rioters were thugs and terrorists getting arrested as they deserved. In the 70s we hung traitors who shared secretes with Russia and that law is still on the books so if anything these traitors are getting off easy!

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Texan In Exile January 14, 2021 at 5:41 pm

Yeah, I am against the death penalty – but – treason? Trying to overthrow a legitimately-elected government?

And then the both siders trying to equate that to BLM protests? Protests about police brutality that disproportionately affects Black people? Protests where people were tear gassed and arrested by unidentified men? REALLY?

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grannybunny January 11, 2021 at 3:27 pm

Well, actually, some of them are companies’ ex-employees now, since no one wants to be associated with seditious criminals.

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