The woman who was caught in a photo giving President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE the middle-finger gesture as his motorcade passed her on the side of the road has penned an op-ed explaining why she is suing her former employer for terminating her over the photo.
In her piece, Juli Briskman compares herself to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has been unable to find work with an NFL team since he began kneeling in protest during the national anthem. Trump criticized Kaepernick on the campaign trail.
"I am not alone in having my ability to make a living threatened by my desire to exercise my right to free speech. No one who follows football thinks that all 50 quarterbacks signed by NFL teams in the past year are more talented than Colin Kaepernick," Briskman wrote in The Washington Post. "These are the stories that have made news, but this facilitation of speech suppression is creeping throughout the private sector."
Briskman, a marketing and public relations professional living in Sterling, Va., was captured by a wire service photographer on her bike making the gesture at Trump's passing car last fall and says that she was fired three days later by Akima LLC., a company that receives contracts from the government.
She told media she was told she violated the company's social media policy because she used the photo as a profile photo.
"While acknowledging that the First Amendment protected my right to extend my middle finger, my boss told me that 'corporate protection' dictated that he terminate me on the grounds of a social media policy that prohibits 'obscene' or 'inappropriate' content," Briskman wrote in the op-ed.
"Akima does business with the government, and company executives obviously feared that the Trump administration would (unconstitutionally) penalize my employer for my gesture," she added. "So, that Tuesday, they forced me out."
Briskman argues that her firing violated her ability to exercise First Amendment rights in her spare time, where her company should have no authority, regardless of concerns it could affect Akima's ability to receive contracts from the Trump administration.
Briskman filed her lawsuit against Akima on Wednesday in federal court, accusing the firm of limiting the "ability to criticize [the] government in your private time."
“The actions of my company were swift and unexpected," she said in a statement this week. "It is un-American to let the government use your own tax dollars to buy your off-duty obedience.”