Is Grubhub’s cake baked?
Online food delivery Grubhub CEO Matt Maloney’s email to employees who may have supported president-elect Donald Trump asking for their resignations created a firestorm last week. In his email, Maloney wrote that Trump’s views have “no place at Grubhub … If you do not agree with this statement then please reply to this email with your resignation because you have no place here.” Boycotts were urged. Investors were encouraged to drop their shares in the company. The usual appropriate responses to a company when something, or in this case, someone with the company says or does something that offends the public.
Mr. Maloney has every right to make this statement. It is his company to run. In fact, the initial rumor was that he was firing Trump supporters who worked at Grubhub, which was debunked. He simply asked them to voluntarily resign and later backpedaled saying his comments were misconstrued. Again, he has every right to fire those employees who fessed up to voting for Mr. Trump. It is his company. It is privately owned and he can do what he pleases. he has the freedom to make those choices. Granted, he will be subject to the consequences of that decision in the marketplace, but he should not be jailed or fined for taking such an action. We all should support his right to that.
Juxtapose that to the companies currently being sued for their refusal to provide wedding cakes for gay marriages. Instances in Oregon and Texas — to name a few — show a drastic overreach on the part of government to force private companies to bend their values in order to accommodate couples whose lifestyles they oppose.
Oregon small business Sweet Cakes by Melissa were ordered by the Oregon Labor Commissioner to pay $135,000 in damages for deciding not to bake a cake for a gay couple based on their religious beliefs. Recently, due to a pile of legal fees, the bakery was forced to close. That is shameful that a government can infringe on private property — in this case the company — to eventually force it out of business.
A Texas bakery came under similar scorn for refusing to bake a cake for a gay marriage, citing the same religious freedom concerns. Kerns Bake Shop was unwilling to help, but luckily for the couple, another local bakery, Mama Tee’s Cakes and Bakery, offered to provide a cake free of charge.
Both cases provide interesting examples. The Oregon instance shows the consequences of government overreach, ultimately leading to the demise of a bakery due to fines they could not afford. The Texas situation is the other option and one that shows how the market works. Another bakery stepped up and was able to provide a couple with what they wanted. Kerns Bake Shop lost money, but it was done in the confines of the marketplace and not by government edict. The latter case exhibits the freedom we need to support. The Oregon story shows the threat of government edict coming down on a private business.
In our free society, people like Matt Maloney and religious cake shop owners should be allow to run their business as they see fit. Their job is to make money as they see fit based on their principles and beliefs. If those ethics run counter to what society believes, they ultimately will run their company into the ground. The market determines who succeeds and who fails. It should not be up to the government to determine that.