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When 14 employees were sacked by a Florida law firm for coming to work clad in orange shirts, they said it was an innocent symbol of unity for after-hours activities. Now we know the real reason.
Six of the 14 workers have hired a lawyer of their own.
They say they were protesting being denied coffee breaks and barred from chatting with co-workers over cubicles.
Rules restricting their movements and activities made them feel they were under the same constraints as prison inmates.
So the orange garb was really a protest about feeling like prisoners.
The attorney hired to represent the employees said they were denied the opportunity to get coffee or go to the break room while on the clock.
Uh, what about the other eight people who were fired for dressing in orange?
Could have simply been an innocent mistake, the lawyer said.
Any way you slice it, the lawyer said, it’s illegal to fire someone who is involved in protesting workplace conditions. It’s a violation of the National Labor Relations Act.
This is a switch in the reasoning offered last week (see HRDaily Report, March 21).
When employees denied their matching shirts protested the job or working conditions, it left them open to firing without repercussions under Florida’s at-will employment law.
Now they say they wore orange to protest workplace issues — which makes it likely they’ll be protected by labor laws to prevent punishment of employees who protest wages or working conditions.
But it’s unclear where that leaves the eight innocent followers who also got the pink slip.