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Friday, November 16, 2012

Firing Employees Because Obama Was Elected May Be a Felony

I wrote before the election about a group of CEOs who, prompted by their candidate, sent a series of threats to employees that, if President Obama were reelected, they'd have no choice but to (pick one) a. shut down, b. do layoffs, or c. move to another country. I wondered the day after the election why there hadn't been a wave of corporate shutdowns. But one guy actually did what he threatened.

A guy named "David" called into a radio show and said he had laid off 22 of his "mostly Hispanic" employees as a result of the election. He complained they had worn Obama shirts to work. He said, "I explained that to them, and I said, ‘You do what you feel you need to do, but I’m just letting you know this as a warning that this is things I have to think of as a business owner.’”
Raw Story (http://s.tt/1sB4T)

He said he felt comfortable he'd complied with the law. I think he's wrong.

Nevada has election laws that prohibit voter threats and intimidation.

NRS 293.710  Intimidation of voters.

1.  It is unlawful for any person, in connection with any election, petition or registration of voters, whether acting himself or herself or through another person in his or her behalf, to:

(e) Discharge or change the place of employment of any employee with the intent to impede or prevent the free exercise of the franchise by such employee.

2.  A person who violates a provision of this section is guilty of a category E felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.

This guy, like the rest of the CEOs who made threats, is clearly firing employees because he believes they voted for President Obama. He may have committed a felony under Nevada law as a result.

If he targeted only Hispanics in his hissy fit, he may also have violated Title VII.

I hope some of his employees find an employment lawyer (or a friendly prosecutor) to pursue this. So, David, how does it feel to have confessed to a crime on the air? I hope it turns out that you have plenty of time to enjoy some free accommodations on the taxpayers' dime.


  1. Thanks for this timely post; I had thought it was skating the edges of legality at the best. What about those employers who are firing employees based on the perception that they will not be able to afford medical costs? Is that legal? And does it matter how the laid-off people are chosen?

    1. Hi LJL. It really depends on each state's law as far as what kind of election retaliation is allowed. If they are firing to avoid paying medical costs, then it may be legal under ADA. If they are only filing those who've been sick or had sick family members, then that's illegal under ADA and possibly FMLA. If they're only firing people of a particular race, age, sex, religion, etc. then that's probably illegal under Title VII.


I appreciate your comments and general questions but this isn't the place to ask confidential legal questions. If you need an employee-side employment lawyer, try http://exchange.nela.org/findalawyer to locate one in your state.