Juli Briskman became internet famous in October 2017 for flipping the bird at President Donald Trump’s motorcade while riding her bicycle in Virginia. She was immediately dubbed a hero among many news outlets, and social media hailed her as #Her2020. But Briskman was fired from her job shortly after the incident, and she believes it’s related to the viral photo. On Wednesday, April 4th, she announced she’s firing back with a lawsuit.
Briskman, part of the marketing team at the company Akima LLC, was called into a meeting in November 2017 after being told that she had violated the company’s social media policy by posting the now iconic photo on Twitter and Facebook as her profile picture.
“They said, ‘we’re separating from you,’” Briskman recalled. “Basically, you cannot have ‘lewd’ or ‘obscene’ things in your social media. So they were calling flipping him off obscene.”
Briskman had only been working at Akima for six months, and she emphasized to her bosses that she wasn’t on the job when the photo was taken and that none of her social media pages mention her employer. But the government contractor thought the photo could hurt their business.
Virginia operates under an “employment-at-will” law, which means that employers in the state can fire people anytime for any reason. However, Briskman noted that she knew of another coworker who posted lewd comments on his Facebook profile — which also said he was affiliated with Akima LLC — and while the coworker was reprimanded, he wasn’t fired.
Briskman announced her lawsuit on Twitter, and she’s being represented by Geller Lawyers and the nonprofit Protect Democracy. Her attorney Maria Simon said in a statement that the situation was an infringement on Briskman’s rights.
It looks like our shero isn’t afraid to back down.