Thursday, March 22, 2012

Fired for Wearing Orange - COTW #84

I have an unusual Case of the Week this week. For starters, it's not even a case... yet. Yahoo! News has a bizarre report that Law firm fires 14 employees for wearing orange shirts:
[S]everal of the fired workers say they wore the matching colors so they would be identified as a group when heading out for a happy hour event after work. They say the executive who fired them initially accused them of wearing the matching color as a form of protest against management.
Something seems backwards here...

Let's step back and talk law. Yeah, yeah, yeah... generally, at will employees can be fired for any reason, or no reason at all - or even for wearing an orange shirt! But let's mention a little thing called the NLRA - which protects employees engaged in certain concerted activity such as protesting the terms and conditions of employment. Now back to the orange shirt story:
After the 14 employees were fired, an executive said anyone wearing orange for an "innocent reason" should speak up. At least one employee immediately denied any involvement or knowledge of a protest and explained the happy hour color coordination.
Yup, things still sound backwards. If the story is correct, the employer claims it fired the employees for some sort of protest, but the employees assure us they were doing no such thing. It's almost as though the employer is arguing it may have violated the NLRA, but the employees are saying that they were not engaging in protected activity at all.

At this rate, this Case of the Week will never be a case! I'd say both sides should get in touch with a lawyer... but the employer here is a law firm. Surely, something else is going on here. I find it hard to believe that the employees just showed up in orange one day to celebrate happy hour, and the employer thought, "oh my gosh, too many people are wearing orange today! We better fire them all!" Drop a comment if you have any more info.

HT: My mother via email (but no, I'm not blogging from her basement - sorry to bust the stereotype).