The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) fired a longtime flutist this week who had previously shared social media posts about conspiracy theories regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 election earlier this year.
Local CBS affiliate WJZ reported that flutist Emily Skala was fired due to what the orchestra said was her violation of its "discipline policy," though it did not specify how she had violated it.
“Principal Flutist Emily Skala has been dismissed from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in accordance with the progressive discipline policy agreed to in our collective bargaining agreement with the Musicians’ Association of Metropolitan Baltimore Local 40-543, AFM,” BSO President and CEO Peter Kjome said in a statement to local CBS-affiliate WJZ.
Skala was appointed to principal flutist in 1988.
Skala had shared conspiracy theories online earlier in the year that claimed COVID-19 was created in a North Carolina lab before being sold to a lab in Wuhan, China, according to WJZ.
“Ms. Skala has had discipline imposed upon her over these past few months; unfortunately, she has repeated the conduct for which she had been previously disciplined, and dismissal was the necessary and appropriate reaction to this behavior,” Kjome said.
WJZ noted that the orchestra had distanced itself from Skala in February, writing on Twitter that "while we do not comment on internal personnel matters, we also do not condone nor support the words or sentiments expressed in these posts." The station reported that she also shared internal emails.
"Ms. Skala does not speak for the BSO, nor do her statements reflect our core values or code of conduct grounded in humanity and respect," they added.
Skala told The Baltimore Sun this week that she believes her termination is related to a recent incident in which she went to turn in her W-4 tax form at the symphony hall without a mask on.
"From February until now, the BSO has repeatedly violated my constitutional rights in response to audience and donor and subscriber pressure," she told the Sun. "They've committed many crimes against me, none of which they have acknowledged even to themselves. It would not be right to let that go unaccounted for. I would hate for this to happen to anyone else."