Cyclist fired for giving the bird to Trump sues former employer

A Virginia woman who lost her job with a government contractor after she was photographed extending her middle finger at President Donald Trump's motorcade previous year has sued her former employer for wrongful termination.

Briskman says she was initially told she was being fired because the government contractor feared retaliation and because she violated company policy banning obscene content on social media.

Briskman was sacked after a photo went viral that showed the cyclist flipping off Trump's motorcade as he left his golf course in Sterling, Va. last November. Reporters and photographers in a vehicle behind her captured the moment, which quickly spread online and became a source of many jokes on late-night television.

According to her suit, Briskman was promised four weeks of severance pay, but only received two.

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.


'I filed this lawsuit against my former employer today because I believe that Americans should not be forced to choose between their principles and their paychecks'.

I wasn't entirely sure if she had a good case after Voice of America reporter Steve Herman, who was riding in the motorcade, captured her one-finger salute and posted it on social media. Virginia is an at-will state, meaning employers can freely fire an employee at any time and for any reason.

'Working for a company that does business with the federal government should provide you with greater opportunities, but it should never limit your ability to criticize that government in your private time, ' she said.

According to Briskman's complaint, the company feared losing contracts as a result of her actions - an unconstitutional form of retaliation.

The lawsuit was filed in Fairfax, Virginia, by the group Protect Democracy, which describes itself as a nonprofit "dedicated to preventing our democracy from declining into a more authoritarian form of government". She is therefore seeking the other two weeks of pay and coverage of her legal fees, amounting to $2,692.30 in damages.

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