While not everybody is in favor of flipping off President Trump's motorcade, "there can be no doubt that such speech is at the very core of the First Amendment and the Virginia Constitution," says a lawyer for a woman fired for making the gesture last fall. Marketing exec Juli Briskman, a 50-year-old single mother of two teens, was canned by government contractor Akima for allegedly violating its social media policy after an image of her giving the motorcade the finger as it passed her bike near Trump's Sterling, Va., golf course went viral. Her lawsuit, which accuses the firm of violating Virginia employment law, seeks two additional weeks of severance pay she says she was promised, along with legal fees, USA Today reports.
Attorney Maria Simon at the Geller Law Group says Briskman's "expression of disapproval" is "fundamental political speech" protected by state law as well as the Constitution. The lawsuit accuses Akima of firing Briskman out of fear of illegal government retaliation and notes that a senior director wasn't fired for violating social media policy after making profane comments about a Black Lives Matter supporter on Facebook, the Guardian reports. Briskman says she filed the lawsuit in the belief "Americans should not be forced to choose between their principles and their paychecks." "Working for a company that does business with the federal government should provide you with greater opportunities, but it should never limit your ability to criticize that government in your private time," she says. (A GoFundMe campaign to support Briskman raised $134,000.)