This last Thursday saw a national protest against President Trump’s proposed immigration orders called “A Day Without Immigrants.” The ides was that immigrant workers across the nation would essentially go on strike for a day to show how much of an impact immigrants have on the American workforce.
The protest garnered national press attention as numerous people protested around the country.
However, participants of the protests in at least two states are quickly finding out that while everyone has the right to free speech, expression and peaceful protest, there can still be repercussions in the professional world.
After eighteen of their workers failed to show up for work on Thursday, Bradley Coatings, Inc in Tennessee fired all of the employees. Tennessee is a “right to work” state, which means employers can terminate an employee for any virtually any reason as long as it does not violate federal discrimination laws.
According to a report from KTNV the former employees are obviously pretty upset about the situation:
“We are the team leaders directly under the supervisors and they informed us last night that we could not go back to work and the boss said we were fired,” one employee said.
“I would tell him he was unfair, after working for them for so many years, giving him our best. They could not understand that it was just one day. We were going to make up that day on a Sunday, but they didn’t understand that, and it was not the best way. They didn’t give us an opportunity and just told us we were fired,” he said.
However, Bradley says they let the employees go not because they engaged in a protest, but because they missed work and put the company’s projects in danger. The company issued the following statement:
“Bradley Coatings, Incorporated (BCI) is a family-owned, Nashville-based business that provides commercial painting services to its clients on a very demanding schedule. Established in 1986, BCI has always celebrated diversity and supported the immigrant community. This past Wednesday night, certain employees of BCI informed their leadership that they would not be at work the following day. Because of the time-sensitive nature of the jobs these employees were assigned to, all employees were told that they would need to show up for work or they would be terminated. On Thursday, the majority of BCI’s employees fulfilled their obligations to our clients, but eighteen employees did not.
Regretfully, and consistent with its prior communication to all its employees, BCI had no choice but to terminate these individuals. The reason these employees missed work—to engage in peaceful demonstrations—had nothing to do with BCI’s decision to terminate them. BCI regrets this situation, but it has contracted with its clients to complete work on a schedule set by the client’s general contractor. BCI will review its procedures in an effort to avoid similar issues in the future, and will continue to provide timely service to its clients and support to the Nashville immigrant community.”
— ABC News (@ABC) February 17, 2017
A similar incident played out in South Carolina at Encore Boat Builders LLC. According to a report from WLTX:
Juvenito Quintana and 20 others all missed work on February 16th and right the next day, they got a letter from Encore Boat Builders LLC in Lexington.
The letter said they were being terminated for no show/ no call in. Their last day listed as February 16th, the day of the protest.
Quintana says some employees got calls from management the day before telling them not to miss or else they’d lose their job. That’s why he said a lot didn’t call in, for fear.