by David Mendez
Last week, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that a Utah smoothie shop was charging liberal customers an extra dollar for their blended beverages, when a commenter chimed in, saying that his company fired two employees because they were Obama supporters.
The Trib, doing their part to follow up on things that are interesting/insane, tracked the commenter down, noting his comment in a new story:
"Love it. We had to let two employees go to cover new Obongocare [sic] costs and increased taxes," [Terry Lee, owner of Terry Lee Forensics] wrote. "Found two Obongo supporters and gave them the news yesterday. They wanted the idiot in the Whitehouse [sic], they reap the benefits."
Contacted by The Tribune Thursday, Lee said he picked the two employees in large part on the basis of their politics.
"They were Obama supporters. We just knew they were," Lee said. "I implied that sort of tongue and cheek [in the comments section] but there were other issues, too. They were not top performers."
Interestingly enough, there's nothing in either Federal or Utah law that prohibits firings based on one's political preferences, unless the person in question is a government employee.
Although other states do prohibit such firings based on local statutes, Lauren Scholnick, a Salt Lake City labor and employment attorney, said that in Utah "there isn’t a clear statute that prohibits someone from firing someone based on their political views in private employment."
According to the Utah Labor Commission website, "employment in Utah is generally ‘at-will.’ This means that an employer can fire an at-will employee without cause and without notice."
I get firing someone as a result of poor performance. But honestly, I don't understand how one can justifiably fire someone for their political affiliation, particularly during a poor economy, then brag about it in a public forum. Political views aside, that's insane—particularly when it may not have been necessary. Again, from the Trib:
He said that in the past couple of years he has had to cut costs as his business has slowed. But he said his accountant recently told him that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, had raised his company’s taxes and operating costs. Asked to detail those costs, Lee deferred to his accountant, who could not be reached for comment. Obamacare mandates that only businesses with more than 50 employees be required to insure full-time employees or face penalties.
That takes some balls, Terry Lee. Way to be a job creator.