Cyclist who lost job after giving Trump the middle finger sues former employer

The widely shared photo captured Juli Briskman gesturing as the president’s motorcade departed a Trump golf course in Virginia. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

A cyclist in effect fired from her job after giving Donald Trump the middle finger is suing her former employer.
Juli Briskman filed a lawsuit in a Virginia court on Wednesday arguing that the government contractor Akima violated the state’s employment law when it forced her to quit.
Briskman was cycling last October when Trump, departing his golf club in Sterling, northern Virginia, passed her in his motorcade. She raised the middle finger of her left hand. “This is pretty much the only thing I had to express my opinion,” she later explained to the Guardian.
The image was captured by photographers travelling with the president and quickly went viral, earning her fan mail, hate mail, cash donations and five minutes of fame. Briskman, a marketing executive, disclosed the incident to her bosses at Akima, where she had worked for six months.
The Herndon-based company then forced her to resign, claiming that her posting of a photo of the incident on her Facebook page (which did not mention her association with Akima) violated the company’s social media policy.
The lawsuit, filed by the Geller Law Group and Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan pressure group, argues that Akima violated Virginia employment law by firing Briskman out of fear of unlawful government retaliation.
It contends that earlier in 2017, a senior director of operations at Akima wrote the words “You’re a fucking Libtard asshole” in a Facebook discussion about Black Lives Matter. Even though the senior director’s Facebook profile identified him as an Akima employee, the suit says, he was allowed to delete the offensive comment and keep his job.
Briskman, 50, a single mother of two teenagers, said: “I filed this lawsuit against my former employer today because I believe that Americans should not be forced to choose between their principles and their paychecks. Working for a company that does business with the federal government should provide you with greater opportunities, but it should never limit your ability to criticize that government in your private time.”
Akima did not respond to phone calls or emails requesting comment. Briskman now has nearly 18,000 followers on Twitter. Her profile begins: “Resister. Flipper. Cyclist.