Juli Briskman, the Virginia woman who flipped off Donald Trump (well, actually his motorcade — it’s unclear if the president even saw the gesture) and got fired for it, is suing her former employer, USA Today is reporting.
In her court filing, Briskman’s attorney, Maria Simon, claimed that her client’s First Amendment rights to free speech were violated by her employer, government contractor Akima, when they fired her after her story became national news.
“Juli’s expression of disapproval of the President is fundamental political speech protected by both the United States Constitution and Virginia state law.”
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, back in October of 2017, the 50-year-old was riding her bicycle near the Trump National Golf Course in Virginia when Trump’s motorcade passed by. Briskman, apparently not a fan of the 45th president, let her thoughts be known by extending her middle finger at the motorcade. Moments later, as the motorcade was stopped and Briskman passed by again, she flipped off the motorcade a second time.
Of course, no presidential motorcade is complete without a cadre of press photographers snapping pics, and actions were caught on camera. Not only that, but photos of her gesture quickly went viral across the internet.
Remember bicycle flip-off? Juli Briskman was fired after she flipped off @realDonaldTrump motorcade last fall. Now she’s suing Gov. Cont. Akima claiming her right to free speech was violated b/c her company feared government retaliation. @wusa9 pic.twitter.com/MFT6bs4rFL
— Peggy Fox (@PeggyTV) April 4, 2018
Briskman’s employer, however, wasn’t impressed. Not long after the photo went viral, Briskman was let go from her job.
Officially, the reason was that she violated the company’s social media policy. However, in a Washington Post op-ed piece, writer Petula Dvorak speculates that the real reason Akima fired her was because the government contractor feared retaliation from the Trump administration.
“See, Briskman’s bosses didn’t take a moral stand against her action. They didn’t worry that an obscene gesture offends her fellow employees or sullies the good name of her company… the firm is a government contractor, and it made it clear to Briskman that it was worried about retaliation from this administration.”
Dvorak isn’t the only person to hold the opinion that Briskman’s firing was based on fear of reprisal from the Trump administration. The Geller Law Group, which is representing the cyclist, said exactly the same thing in their court filing.
Today, we filed suit with @GellerLawyers on behalf of @julibriskman, an American who exercised her free speech right to criticize the President and was punished for it. Read more here. https://t.co/bsBsqTTsak
— Protect Democracy (@protctdemocracy) April 4, 2018
As for what Briskman wants from her former employer in the suit: surprisingly little. Briskman claims that she was due four weeks of severance pay, but only given two. She also wants to be reimbursed for her legal fees. The total amount of the lawsuit amounts to little more than the cost of a junky used car: $2,692.30.
Briskman says her lawsuit is motivated by the principle of the whole thing, not the trifling amount of money involved.
“I am fighting back because no American should have to choose between their pocketbooks & their principles.”
All things considered, Briskman came out ahead from the whole deal. A crowdfunding effort to tide her over throughout her job search netted $134,385.