KODAK AND DIVERSITY

Inoperable Terran reports on a bizarre incident at Kodak, wherein a 23-year employee was fired for objecting to a pro-gay propaganda campaign that he was being subjected to.

I’m not thrilled by this and wonder if the man’s vestment in a pension plan wasn’t also a contributing factor. But, aside from any contractual obligations that may be involved, why shouldn’t a private company be able to fire employees who don’t fit into the company culture?

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Dodd says:

    As a matter of law (which is not, of course, perfectly co-extensive with ‘matters of principle’), at-will employers can fire people for “good cause” or for no cause at all expose themselves to liability if they fire someone for “bad cause.” Whether this would fall into that category is difficult to say, but there’s at least a colourable argument that can be made that it does.

  2. Dodd says:

    Arrgghh! That should say “…*but* expose themselves to liability…”

  3. Paul says:

    why shouldn’t a private company be able to fire employees who don’t fit into the company culture

    Sure I’ll fire all the black people I employ because the white people don’t think they fit the company culture…. That would fly.

    Another case of a double double standard standard.

  4. reason says:

    Yup – double/double standard. If a worker were fired for distributing pro-gay material, and fired, there would be an outcry, backlash, lawsuits, etc.

    It makes me soooo glad that Kodak is slowly going down the tubes – even if they have to lay off thousands of workers – they’ll get other jobs like I did after I was layed off. Maybe one of the layoff will be the idiots who inacted this policy.

    Goes to show you the value of HR – the company is going down the toilet, but they concentrate on having pro-gay activities for the employees rather than focusing on the business.

    I use a digital camera now and buy Fuji film for my real pics.

  5. Kevin Drum says:

    Ah, another person screwed because he hit the “Reply All” button by mistake….

    I think there’s some misunderstanding of the legal aspects here. “At will” employers can generally fire people for any reason *except* for specifically prohibited reasons (age, sex, race, etc.). However, they are also obligated to follow their own published guidelines, if they have any (and Kodak apparently does).

    In this case, nondiscrimination against gays appears to be a part of their employment guidelines, and Kodak has every right to enforce that. You can’t fire someone for being black, Paul, but you *can* (and should) fire someone for being intolerant of blacks.

    Kodak has chosen to make tolerance of gays a requirement of employment. You don’t have to personally approve of them, but you do have to tolerate them and you’re not allowed to insult them. Szabo knew that, and he deliberately chose to send his email.

    I doubt he has any case at all. He knew what he was doing.

  6. Paul says:

    I think there’s some misunderstanding of the legal aspects here. “At will” employers can generally fire people for any reason *except* for specifically prohibited reasons (age, sex, race, etc.

    Quite the contrary, I understand the legal aspects quit well.

    I was addressing a specific point in James’ post. Employeers have less and less control who they fire. If they fire anyone in a politically correct (er protected) group, they must have proof that they did not fire them for being in that group.

    If a black guy shows up a work with a shirt that says “It’s a black thing, you woudn’t understand.” He can not be fired for it.

    If a white guy shows up with a rebel flag on his shirt the black guy sues the employer for harrassment if he does not fire the white guy.

    double double standard standard.

    I meet a payroll weekly. If you did, you would be more aware of the pressures employeers are under.

  7. Paul says:

    P.S./OOOPS

    If a black guy shows up a work with a shirt that says “It’s a black thing, you woudn’t understand.” He can not be fired for itEVEN IF it causes a major disruption in the workplace.