A picture that told a thousand words describing President Donald Trump's critics went viral last week. News media picked up the story of a female bicyclist who chose to signal with her middle finger as the president’s motorcade drove from his golf club in Sterling, Virginia, on October 28. The photo was captured by a White House press corps photographer traveling with the president. According to various media, the cyclist’s name is Juli Briskman. Her employer, Akima LLC, a government contractor, fired her for the obscene gesture.

A White House press pool report noted that Briskman flipped off the president at least twice.

In an interview with Huffington Post, Briskman (50) appeared stunned that a photographer had captured the moment. As the incriminating photo began making the rounds online, Briskman approached Akima’s human resources department to recount what was going on when she went to work. By November 7, company representatives told her she had violated Akima’s  social media policy by using the photo as her profile picture on Twitter and Facebook. 

The mother-of-two, who worked in marketing and communications for Akima, told her bosses that she was not at work when the offense occurred and that her social media pages do not mention her employer. They responded that the photo could hurt their business. Because Virginia is an employment-at-will state: which means employers can fire their staff at any time and for any reason. Briskman, a Democrat, is incensed that a male colleague kept his job after allegedly posting lewd comments on his Facebook pages that featured Akima LLC as his cover photo. She plans to apply for a job with an organization with whom she shares her political and social views, such as PETA and Planned Parenthood. 

According to a Washington Post report, Briskman has contacted the American Civil Liberties Union about her case. Washington Post writer Petula Dvorak wrote as a coda to her coverage of the dispute: "Resist, sister."



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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