Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My latest Jim Bakker moment - Brendan Eich's de facto firing may have been illegal under California law

I have previously stated that Mozilla's firing of Brendan Eich was perfectly legal. (Firing? I'll get to that in a minute.) This was based on a comparison of Eich's case with the case of Michael Italie, a Florida Socialist who was fired from Goodwill. From Slate:

[W]hen the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union looked into Italie's case, it discovered...that Goodwill was on strong legal footing. "There is no legal case to be brought," explains Miami chapter president Lida Rodriguez-Taseff. "The law is pretty clear that a private employer can fire someone based on their political speech even when that political speech does not affect the terms and conditions of employment."

But Italie was in Florida. Eich was in California. And Robert Cooper has shared a link to a post at the California Workforce Resource Blog. The post cites a particular California law:

Under California law it is blatantly illegal to fire an employee because he has donated money to a political campaign. This rule is clearly set forth in Labor Code sections 1101-1102:

More details here.

And what of the claim that Eich wasn't fired by Mozilla? OK, he wasn't fired by Mozilla (wink wink), but as a Slashdot commenter notes, Mozilla certainly didn't support its employee.

As Eich stepped down, Re/code reported that Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker said Eich's ability to lead the company had been badly damaged by the continued scrutiny over the hot-button issue. 'It's clear that Brendan cannot lead Mozilla in this setting,' Baker was quoted as saying. 'I think there has been pressure from all sides, of course, but this is Brendan's decision. Given the circumstances, this is not surprising.'

Personally, I doubt that Eich is going to file a wrongful termination suit, since the disadvantages of doing so far outweigh the advantages. However, I'll say it again: Mozilla is going to have a hard time finding a new CEO with any amount of talent.

One person who is clearly unqualified to be CEO of Mozilla is Sam Yagan, for two reasons.

First, as Michael Arrington points out, Yagan gave a $500 political contribution to U.S. Congressman Chris Cannon - who has received a 0% rating from the Human Rights Campaign regarding support of gay rights. Obviously Mozilla couldn't have anyone like Yagan running Mozilla, since he's just as bad (well, technically, half as bad) as Eich.

Second, as Arrington also notes, Yagan already has a job.

Sam Yagan is the co-founder of OkCupid and CEO of Match.com, OkCupid’s parent company

OkCupid, as you may recall, raised a big stink about Eich's appointment as CEO.

Arrington, not one to shy away from harsh words, says this about OkCupid:

I believe that it was a PR stunt by OKCupid, that the company isn’t really committed to gay rights at all, and that OkCupid co-founder Sam Yagan was particularly hypocritical in this.

To go further, I think that a person and/or a company who deliberately destroy a man’s reputation and career under false pretenses just to get a PR bump is being explicitly evil.
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