When Your Secret Nazi Past Costs You Your Job

Never gonna be president now …

American History X, and I’m disturbed by how attractive I find Ed Norton even here

Here’s a trickier question than whether your boss can demand you wear 2–4" heels: is it fair to fire / suspend someone because they used to engage in activities you or your customers may find abhorrent?

Gawker editor Hamilton Nolan argues No:

Late last week, Nick Solares, the Restaurant Editor of the food site Eater.com, was placed on leave after apologizing for being involved in the racist punk scene of the 1980s. This is a horrible precedent, for all of us. …
Workplace personnel decisions should be made based on behavior that directly affects the workplace. Workplace personnel decisions — hiring, firing, promotions, demotions, suspensions, discipline, being placed on leave — should not be made based upon things people do or believe in their personal time. This is a crucial standard that prevents your employer from unilaterally running your life.

This part gets hardcore:

The very existence of someone you disagree with does not constitute assault. You are free to dislike your coworker; you may even feel unsafe due to your coworker’s personal beliefs; but you are not entitled to demand that they be removed from their job for something they did unrelated to work. The relevant issue here is not how you feel about an ideology that Nick Solares used to subscribe to; the issue is that if Nick Solares is doing his job, he should not be placed on leave because his employer dislikes an ideology that he used to subscribe to. This is a line that must be defended.

Emphasis mine.

I am the kind of First Amendment purist that thinks the KKK has the right to march through Skokie. I think that the correct answer to hate speech is more speech. But I do acknowledge that hiring and firing decisions are somewhat different, especially if an employee is At Will. Supervisors at Vox may indeed be able to lay off Solares now that they have discovered he was once for white pride, if not white supremacy. Nolan believes that, whether his bosses are allowed to boot Solares or not, their doing so sets a bad example, and makes employed life a little less safe for the rest of us.

Nolan’s argument is also, at least somewhat, predicated on the notion that Solares has disavowed his skinhead past. Solares insists that he has. Given that he has appeared smiling in at least one picture with guys from his Prince Hal days, some people aren’t convinced that Solares has transitioned to his life as the online food critic equivalent of Henry V. (To complete the metaphor, perhaps Solares will have to oversee the execution of one of his former BFFs .…)

Even if Solares does still retain some of his old sympathies, like Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, that might make for an even more interesting question: to what degree do a person’s unsavory choices outside of work matter, if they do not affect that person’s job performance? Should Justine Sacco have been sacked? What about Holly Jones, whose situation I wrote about here?

Whether or not we agree that people who are now or who have ever been members of an objectionable party shouldn’t get to work for money, or at least not in mainstream organizations, I think we can all agree that it is totally fair to pink slip your employees for running up $5,000 tabs in strip clubs and then submitting that bill as a work-related expense. Especially if, when they’re caught, they blame an unspecified “rapper.”

According to a person with knowledge of the situation, Frere-Jones recently filed a $5,000 expense report for a venue that the paper discovered was actually a strip club. Asked to explain, Frere-Jones said he was writing an article about a rapper. But according to the insider, the rapper’s representatives told the paper that no interview had taken place. …
When asked if Frere-Jones had cleared out his desk at the L.A. Times, the newsroom insider said, “No, they cleared it for him.”

Say it with me: “Daaaamn!”

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.