When are employees going to learn that while the First Amendment does guarantee freedom of speech, there is no constitutional right to a job, and employers don’t have to tolerate employee hate speech?
Our recent addition to the unemployment line is a semi-professional hockey player in Illinois. He saw on Twitter that another hockey team had changed the color of its team logo from red, white, and blue to a rainbow. So, first, he tweeted,
“I knew the Kwings were soft but I didn’t know they were gay, trans and soft 🤣”
The team replied, “We’ll never stop celebrating the unique and diverse individuals that make the hockey community amazing.”
Then, the player replied with a Google Search likening Pride flags to a “mental illness flag.” Later, he tweeted, “Y’all went from gay to trans to pedos in 8 years… that’s what” and “Imagine marketing towards the bottom of the barrel of society LMAO… what’s next? Felony offender night?”
These tweets and other homophobia he shared on Twitter led to his release from the team, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.
Now, contrast this situation with another hockey player who refused to wear his team’s “Pride Night” jerseys because of a religious objection. This player did not criticize the event or the decisions of others for donning the jersey — he respected their choices. Instead, he merely asked that others respect his sincerely-held religious beliefs.
Conversely, the hockey player in Illinois showed a complete lack of professionalism and respect, which led to his release. One of the team’s co-owners commented on the decision:
“Our organization does not condone that language, nor do we support that point of view or behavior. Those things do not represent the beliefs of our team, our partners nor our fans, nor the great sport we play. It does not represent the values of our organization. We are shocked, and we have immediately released [him].”
The Lincoln Journal Star reported that the player later tweeted, “Any organization that has a problem with the truth is no organization that I want to represent anyway.”
And that’s the beauty of at-will employment, which is that either the employer or the employee can end the employment relationship at any time and for any lawful reason, with or without notice. So, if employees don’t want to work for employers with philosophical differences, they are free to resign.