Can You Fire an Employee Who Was a U.S. Capitol Rioter? In a Word, Yes

January 12, 2021

In the case of last week’s Capitol siege, employers should consider specifics: Are the people involved at-will employees or not? What state do they work in? Are they public- or private-sector workers? And crucially, what exactly did they do?

For example, California has employment laws that protect people from being fired for political affiliations, while Montana is the only state that does not recognize employment at will, which makes it hard for bosses to fire individuals without valid reasons. In addition, government employees have protected First Amendment rights in many circumstances.

Finally, what the employee is identified as doing plays a role. Were they seen trespassing, destroying property, or roaming the halls of the Capitol, or were they merely spotted outside in the crowd?

“There is broad and long continuum between sitting in [House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office] and taking pictures and attending a march on the Mall in Washington,” explains Long Island, N.Y., labor and employment lawyer Domenique Camacho Moran of Farrell Fritz.

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  • Related Practice Areas: Labor & Employment
  • Featured Attorneys: Domenique Camacho Moran
  • Publications: Fast Company