coworker was fired for a Facebook post, restricting access to a kosher kitchen, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My coworker was fired for an inflammatory Facebook post

I started working at my first job after college seven months ago. One of my coworkers was just fired over something that happened in his personal life. This coworker is engaged to someone he met through a pen pal program for individuals serving life without parole in our state prisons. What happened was that he posted about his upcoming wedding to her on Facebook, and in the post he called the family members of his fiancée’s victim’s family “victim’s rights scum.” Someone took a screenshot and shared it with the local press and on social media. My coworker was identified as an employee here and after that happened he was fired and escorted out by security.

Our work has nothing to do with anything that could be affected by this (prisoners, crime victims, vulnerable persons such as children, personal or financial information, etc). He was only fired because the company didn’t want to look bad in the press or with the public. He’s had to move out of his apartment because his neighbors protested him living there and he didn’t feel safe anymore. No one knew about his relationship and lots of his family and friends are mad at him now. I don’t agree with what he said and think it was wrong. But I don’t think he should have been fired for something in his personal life that has no bearing on work. Can people really get fired for what they do in their personal lives if it doesn’t hurt anyone, isn’t illegal, and doesn’t affect their work? Should I be speaking up or advocating for him if I don’t think his firing was just? I’m really upset for him, it seems like an encroachment on people’s personal rights.

People can indeed get fired for this kind of thing, and sometimes do when companies are concerned that being affiliated with someone will harm their own reputation. I can certainly see why they might not want to be known as the employer of someone who attacked the family of someone who I’m guessing was killed in a violent crime (based on the life sentence without parole). If you’re being horrible to people publicly, your employer is allowed to be concerned that you’ll drive away business and cause problems internally as well, and to decide they don’t want to be associated with you.

Often when this comes up, people ask whether that means it’s also okay for an employer to fire someone for other types of speech they don’t like — for example, someone speaking out for gay rights or racial equity. I’d argue that publicly attacking family members of the person your fiance killed is different than normal political discourse, and it’s reasonable to treat it differently.

2. Restricting access to a kosher kitchen

We are a family-owned business with 20-25 employees in our main office. The principals of the company and seven other employees keep kosher. We have a common area kitchen and a kosher kitchen. Due to the growth of our company over the past few years, we have many more people working here who do not keep kosher. While we keep the kitchen unlocked, we do have a sign on the door that states “Stop Do NOT Enter. Kosher Access to Authorized Kosher Coworkers Only.”

Is it against the law to put a lock on the kosher kitchen and further restrict access by only giving the code to employees that keep kosher?

It’s fine to require the kitchen itself to stay kosher and thus require that any food that’s brought into it must be kosher, but you’re on shaky ground not letting non-kosher people enter it at all. It would be better to make the policy about food, not people.

Updated to add: I’m not convinced that this arrangement here wouldn’t be legal, since there’s second kitchen. It’s possible the kosher kitchen would be considered a reasonable accommodation for kosher staff, and it’s not a separate perk that others don’t get since everyone in this scenario does have access to another kitchen. This is complicated, and you should talk to a lawyer who specializes in this area.

3. What should I call my mom when she starts working in my office?

I’m a senior-level employee in a small-ish community human services organization (and in my 40’s, if it matters at all). My mother was the former director of another organization in our community for many years and recently retired. She’s very well known here and was absolutely brilliant at what she did. After her retirement, my boss offered my mom a part-time position in our office working directly with her on some special projects where her expertise and network of contacts will be really valuable.

She’ll be starting at our office soon and I just realized I’m in a bit of a quandry about what to call her when she’s here. It feels really weird to me to call her “mom” at work — but it feels equally weird to call her by her first name! Given the work she’s done in our community over the years, a lot of people know we’re related even though we have different last names. All of my colleagues know she’s my mom so it isn’t that. And my boss and I have made sure to be thoughtful about when and where our work overlaps, which won’t be much. She won’t report to me, and most of her day-to-day stuff will overlap more with my boss and another department, but given my role in the organization we will interact regularly. And really, our office is just pretty small so we’re going to see and talk to each other when she’s here.

Am I over thinking this? Is there some kind of office etiquette around how to handle this kind of situation? I don’t want things to be unnecessarily weird, but I don’t want to be unprofessional either. What do you think the smartest option is here?

There is indeed office etiquette around this! You should call her by her first name — both when addressing her directly and when referring to her to others. You’re probably going to feel incredibly weird doing it in the beginning, but that weirdness will fade, and it will be nothing compared to the weirdness other people would feel if you called her “mom.” Look at it this way: In the office, you’re relating to her as a colleague, not as your mom — and you want the way you speak to and about her to reflect that.

4. Helping to hire my replacement

I am the only employee at a very small, volunteer-run organization. When I handed in my notice, I told them that I would be happy to train their new hire, recognizing that there would most likely be a gap in between my leaving and my replacement starting. Also, since my board is not at all technologically savvy, I offered to post the job listing on several sites, which were then linked to my account.

Initially, all I was doing was forwarding resumes to my supervisor, since I felt that I had no business commenting on applicants. However, as the resumes came in, my supervisor started asking me for feedback on them – essentially asking me to verify that his instincts on applicants qualifications were correct. Since I know the field, and he doesn’t, I offered my opinions, which was verging on the limit of what I felt comfortable with.

Now that he’s picked applicants to interview, he wants me to sit in on the interviews! And not just observe – he wants me as one of the interviewers! I obviously want him to pick a good candidate who has knowledge of the field, but I feel slightly skeevy interviewing candidates to be my replacement. If nothing else, I feel that it would be hard for me to be unbiased, since they’d be taking over my work.

What should I do? Am I worrying over nothing, or should I recuse myself from the interviews? If it helps, there’s no one else with my knowledge of the field in our organization, and I don’t want to burn any bridges.

It’s not weird or unethical to help interview for your replacement; that is pretty common. So if you want to do it, go ahead and do it! But if you don’t have the time or just don’t want to be involved to that degree, it’s perfectly fine to explain that you don’t have the time to do that. In fact, you can set any boundaries here you want — which means that if you don’t really want to be giving input on candidates at all, it’s fine to explain that you don’t have time to keep doing that either. Basically, you can have as much or as little involvement here as you want.

5. Interviewing with the same company for a lower title than they’d interviewed me for previously

I have recently been scheduled for an interview with a group that I have already interviewed with four months ago. I was very close to getting the offer four months back and the hiring manager said I would hear back from HR soon on the background checks. Unfortunately I never heard back, even after one thank-you/follow-up email and it was a dream role and title for me. Now, I have been called for an interview with the same group for one level down (in title and salary). I am going to attend the interview to give them the opportunity to speak more about the role.

However, due to the title I am feeling a bit demotivated. I was wondering if it is a good idea to bring this up in the upcoming interview. If yes, I was going to say something along the lines of “I had interviewed with so-and-so group and was in discussion for this title as it speaks closely with my expertise and the direction I would like my career to go with. Is there anything I can do to help you understand how I qualify for that level?” Is this fair to ask in an interview?

It’s a bad idea. They’re not interviewing you for that role; they’re interviewing you for a different one, so they’re not going to be enthused about hearing you talk about why they should consider you for another job instead. If they offer you a job, at that point you can certainly ask about coming in at a higher-level title if you think you have a good case for it.

But if you’re too annoyed to feel good about the job you’re interviewing for, you’re probably better off declining the interview. I’d only move forward if you’re genuinely interested in the job they want to discuss, and if you could imagine taking that job without resenting it.

{ 1,215 comments… read them below }

  1. neverjaunty*

    OP #1, I’m puzzled as to which of your co-worker’s personal rights, specifically, you believe were violated here? Your co-worker had the right to say what he did. Others have the right to decide (and to say) he’s a horrible person and they no longer want to be associated with him – for example, by having him work for them.

    Free speech does not mean “freedom to say whatever you like and everyone else has to STFU and nod politely.”

    1. Knitting Cat Lady*


      Also, free speech means the GOVERNMENT can’t punish you for what you say.

      Other private entities (people, corporations,…) can tell you to take a hike if you say something they disagree with.

      I lost count how many times I told relatives going on about free speech this:

      ‘You used your right to free speech to say $shitty_thing and I’m using mine to tell you what I think about it and why you’re factually wrong!’

      1. Jaguar*

        I think the situation in the letter is more of a employment rights and employer ethics issue than a free speech one, but since we’re on the free speech issue, I want to suggest that if your response to someone mentioning freedom of speech is “there are consequences for what you say,” you might be more opposed to the principle of free speech than you think.

        1. RobM*

          I don’t think that it’s true that people who say “there are consequences for what you say” are opposed to Free Speech.

          We _are_ fundamentally responsible for the things we say. I accept that while I can say whatever I want, broadcasters (and that includes bloggers with a comment section such as Alison) are not obliged to publish what I say, and others can reply how they wish – their freedom of speech, and choose not to associate with me – their freedom of choice.

          There is a balancing act on the part of an employer to try and respect the privacy of its employees and not “over-react” to what someone says outside work, but if an employee says something egregiously offensive and their continued employment will cause harm to their employer there may be a hard choice to make. That’s a fact of life.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            One of the spots I now most often encounter “I have free speech–this is unconstitutional oppression!” protestations is on the comments sections of blogs.

            1. Penny Lane*

              Right – which makes everything else such people have to say suspect, if they didn’t pay enough attention in middle-school civics class to understand that freedom of speech deals with the *government* not being able to suppress your speech (with certain exceptions, of course – fire in a crowded theater and all of that).

                1. JamieS*

                  That highlights that the quoted phrase was first said under dubious circumstances but it doesn’t show the quote itself is factually incorrect. Although, as an aside, the circumstances of that quote do show the inherent ridiculousness of having the government be the entity responsible for upholding and enforcing a document that solely exists to protect people from the government. That’s like having the defendant in a trial be their own judge and jury.

            2. Koko*

              I read some very angry comments on an SNL video clip about how unfair it was that SNL only makes fun of conservatives and not liberals. Like a privately-run television show that has catered to liberals for decades was under some kind of obligation to be “fair and balanced,” as they say.

            3. Specialk9*

              This is going on a tangent on defining free speech. OP#1, to be really specific to your situation, I think you’re backing the wrong horse but go for it if you want, and I think you are very confused about what employers are ‘allowed’ to fire you for.

              You can be fired for any reason – your teeth look funny or it’s Tuesday or your boss is constipated – except for being in certain protected classes. (Even then, protected classes can be fired for other reasons.)

              In this case, your friend said something truly abhorrent and insensitive, and the company didn’t want their brand (reputation) to be damaged by this a-hole. (Look up “brand intangible asset accounting” – there are many careers dedicated just to managing a professional brand.) This is a case of the company firing for a REALLY GOOD CAUSE. He threatened their incredibly valuable brand.

              His friends are mad at him for marrying a murderer (or something similarly severe that had a victim*) and calling her victim’s family scum for advocating for victims’ rights. His family is mad at him. His company is mad at him. His neighbors are mad at him. You say you think it was wrong, but are actually mad at the company, friends, family, and neighbors.

              So what would your being an “advocate” do for him?

              And have you ever studied civics? You can brush up on “people’s personal rights” with a quick “Civics 101 constitutional rights” Google search.

              *This is Alison’s speculation based on the sentence, but maybe she’s a cannibal or serial pedophile, etc. None of the options are very good.

              1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                Totally OT but some of the corporate-speak buzzwords being thrown around in the modern business world make me grit my teeth like nails on a chalkboard.
                “Optics” is the worst but “brand” (used the way it is here, not “we manufacture X brand teapots) is a close, close second.
                Oh, and “growing” your [business]. Do people say “I’m growing my children”? NO! Your children grow, your business grows, use the word correctly!

            4. Jojo*

              My neighbor said he had a right to be where he was. I said hi’s right ends at my property line. I have a right ton ask him to be on the other side of it and if he does not like it, then the police could tell him. Free speach rights works pretty much the same.

          2. Rachel01*

            1. My coworker was fired for an inflammatory Facebook post
            I wouldn’t say anything since you are new at the job. There could have been some past problems with that co-worker that you might be unaware of. He did an idiotic thing on Facebook and is paying the price. If he has such bad judgement to have posted something along that line where his employer would find out, there might have been other bad judgement behaviors / decisions he had made in the past in relation to his job.

            Never assume that the reason you are given for termination is the full story. There are privacy considerations and it’s doubtful that you’ll be given the full details.

            1. myswtghst*

              This is a good thing to keep in mind as well. It’s entirely possible this was the final straw, not the only reason.

            2. Tedious Cat*

              I thought past letters had pretty well established that showing blazingly bad judgment can indeed be a fireable offense.

            3. Nope*

              It’s not even so much that his employer found out, as that his comment was spreading far beyond his Facebook friends and into the public sphere.

              We saw the same thing after Charlottesville. A lot of companies (if they were even aware of their employees extracurriculars) were willing to overlook them being part of the alt-right until people started identifying these guys and contacting/publicizing their employers. Google probably ignored any number of crust comments from a small subset of employees until the manifesto went public and their reputation took a hit. Don Imus had a job until advertisers decided it was damaging their reputations to air their ads during his show. Those are all free choices that companies make after an employee’s private life begins spilling over into and damaging the company’s reputation.

              1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                I don’t know why but that just made me think What if all kinds of human rights groups that right wingers hate were to say “oh here we’ll take those empty slots for you” and stuffed them full of ads promoting popular liberal ideas. I had a good laugh over that!

        2. Cyberwulf*

          Oh okay so it should be totally fine to harass and threaten people because free speech and if you have a problem with that you hate free speech. Is that what I’m getting?

            1. Cyberwulf*

              Simple. Jaguar says that if you think there are consequences for what people say then you’re a little bit opposed to free speech. I just want to know if they think there should be no consequences for harassing and threatening people since that is also speech.

              1. Kate 2*

                I’m not sure what you mean by “harassing and threatening” but for actions to be considered speech there’s a pretty high barrier. As to purely spoken harassment and threats, each of those has a specific legal definition and are crimes in and of themselves. Just because a lay person calls something a threat, harassment, or libel doesn’t mean it actually, legally is. But if they do cross that line, they are actionable, there are legal consequences for those crimes, free speech doesn’t come into it. Free speech is about the government and citizens anyway, not citizen vs. citizen or company vs. citizen.

            2. JB (not in Houston)*

              It seems pretty clear to me. Cyberwulf is challenging Jaguar’s assertion that if you say there are consequences to a person’s speech, then you maybe don’t support free speech.

              1. Two Cents*

                What Jaguar said is a ridiculous notion – it’s amazing how many people confuse or promote free speech as meaning that you can say anything, at any time, that may be offensive to others, without any repercussions. Free speech is related to freedom from persecution, and absolutely not freedom from any consequences at all.

                I think that freedom from government persecution is of course extremely important – we wouldn’t live in a democracy otherwise. But if you live in organized society, and you make offensive/ anti-social comments, then you can and should face repercussions that include loss of social relationships, loss of engagement with private companies, etc.

                1. Anion*

                  But who defines what is offensive or anti-social? And why do you care so much what other people think or say?

                  I saw someone on Twitter the other day literally call another person a racist Nazi for repeating a line from MLK Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech. Does the supporter of MLK deserve to lose his job, home, etc.?

                  Saying “If you’re so eager to impose consequences for speech you do not like, you maybe don’t really support free speech,” is hardly promoting the idea that free speech means “you can say anything, at any time…without repercussions.” But when I was a kid, the “liberal” position (this was in regard to attempts to censor music/movies/TV/etc. by the “religious right”), with which I agreed then and with which I still agree now, was, “If you don’t like it, you don’t have to listen.” That was the argument against censorship. Now it seems the “liberal” position is, “If I don’t like it, you should be punished for saying it or just not permitted to say it,” and I have a big problem with that. That doesn’t make me “ridiculous,” it doesn’t make me “confused” or stupid, and it doesn’t mean I condone offending others. It just means I think people have the right to think and say what they want without being subjected to a lynch mob (internet or irl). There are consequences, and there are *consequences.* As those 80s crusaders for free speech said, no one is forcing you to listen.

                  And yes, if you’re that eager to punish people for expressing views you do not like, then no, frankly, you are not committed to the idea of free speech. If you support the idea that only certain kinds of discourse–the kind with which you just happen to agree–should be allowed, then no, you are not committed to the idea of free speech; if you support the idea that people who hold beliefs you do not like should be silenced, then no, you are by definition not committed to free speech.

                  You just basically called Jaguar and myself “ridiculous” and implied that we’re too dumb to understand what free speech really is; I find that offensive. How would you like to be punished for that–what consequences do you think you should face? Because by your own statement above, you deserve it. I personally think offending me in that way is rather rude but not deserving of punishment; afaic, you have the right to insult me if you so choose. But apparently–according to you–my idea of free speech is incorrect, so I’ll leave the question of what consequences you should face on your obviously far smarter and more capable shoulders, and will await with eagerness your decision.

                2. Not a Morning Person*

                  “But who defines what is offensive or anti-social?”
                  In the U.S. everyone gets to decide for themselves, and in some situations that are legally defined, the government may decide or use the help of 12 citizens to decide.
                  That is a hard thing when so many people are ready to pile on when they hear something they disagree with and then use their speech to silence another. The crowd is not always wise, although sometimes they get it right.
                  The challenge, as Anion says, is that there are crowds who will find something offensive and shout the speaker down and work to influence those around the offending speaker to impose dire consequences. (I don’t think either conservatives or liberals have a clean slate on listening to speech that they disagree with or find disagreeable. We’re all in our own echo chamber most of the time.)
                  There are unfortunate consequences to some speech, even though it’s free speech. Free doesn’t mean speaking without any consequences. Speech always has consequences, and sometimes those consequences are good and sometimes they can ruin a life. We can argue about what the situation should be in a perfect world (created by our own biases and preferences) and we can argue about how it works IRL; real life and the perfect world seem to always be at odds. And so the consequences are ever-evolving.

                3. Anne (with an "e")*

                  @Anion, I value free speech. I am proud to live in a society where I am absolutely certain that I will not be persecuted by the government for my POV, which, btw, is rather conservative. However, if I am stupid enough to post blantly abhorrent views online attached to my real name, then I will not be surprised if there are consequences. People on both the Left and the Right need to understand this principle.

                  *** I do not think my views are abhorrent, obviously.

                  I do not have a Constitutional right to my job. If my employer decides that my public POV does not align with the image of the company, then I can be fired. If my coworkers no longer want to associate with me, then I can be fired. I work in a at-will state. I can be fired for no reason. I think people need to be realistic. I think people need to understand what they have a legal right to, and what they do not have a legal right to. You have a right to your opinion. You have a right to post that opinion, broadcast that opinion, etc. You do not have a right to your job. Your employer holds all the cards. Like it or not, you can be fired if you do or say something that embarrasses them.

                4. TootsNYC*

                  “But who defines what is offensive or anti-social?”

                  The person imposing the punishment makes that definition.

                  So, if the punishment is getting fired by your company, your company makes that decision.

                  If the punishment is your landlord refusing to renew your lease, or evicting you, then the landlord is forming the definition.

                  If the consequences are that the community at large rises up and rejects you, then multiple people have created the definition.

                  Our OP is perfectly free to extend friendship to this person if they want to.
                  And other employers are perfectly free to extend offers of employment to him.

                5. TootsNYC*

                  And why do you care so much what other people think or say?

                  Because what other people think affects how they act.
                  What they say affects how other people act.

                  You yourself care what other people think or say; you’re outraged about someone having been called a name. Why?

                  For the same reason that many people are upset about this guy’s comment. It shows a great disdain for those who have suffered a loss, and it leaves open the question that he will be unpleasant to them.

                  Also–to let a loathsome expression of sentiment stand unchallenged is often seen as an endorsement of it. (“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke)

                  And so by speaking up and imposing consequences (social ostracism, with its accompanying loss of employment), individuals as well as the community at large are attempting to control the environment in which they live.

                  People who disagree with the are completely free to create their own counterpressure.
                  If they cannot generate enough of a counterpressure to be effective, then the larger community has won the battle.

                6. Nariko*

                  Anion – I would argue your point about censorship for TV/music etc versus consequences to your speech. I think you are confusing two different aspects. Here’s why:

                  When the FCC (or another government entity) censors what can be played/displayed/broadcasted, the government is limiting what we say.

                  When there are consequences to your speech, such as loss of job, loss of friend, someone arguing with you, that is others exercising their freedom in return to what you said.

                  The difference is not small, it is essential in protecting our freedom.

                7. Anion*

                  @TootsNYC: I’m “outraged about someone being called a name?” Really? Where in the world did you see “outrage” in my comment? Where did you see “outrage” in the two sentences I used to describe that Twitter exchange–an exchange I repeated merely as an example of how some people’s definition of “offensive/anti-social/racist” can be pretty far out there, and how dangerous the “If it’s offensive it shouldn’t be allowed” idea can potentially be?

                  Had I been or even seemed to be genuinely “outraged,” then I could understand your asking me why; since I was and am not, I’m afraid I can’t answer. I don’t generally care too much about what strangers think or say. It’s fairly rare that I disagree with something so strongly that I feel the need to argue, and even more rare that such a need stems from being genuinely outraged or upset. I disagree with comments made here quite often; I very rarely bother replying to disagree, because so what–somebody said something I don’t agree with, who cares? Somebody here expressed a point of view or opinion which I find insulting or offensive? Must be any day of the week, then. I prefer to focus, generally, on trying to keep my own comments positive, helpful, and as kind and supportive as possible–I don’t always succeed, but I do try. (This obviously doesn’t work, and has obviously not provided any impetus at all for anyone to give me the benefit of the doubt or assume good intent at any point, but oh well. I’ve been around here long enough to cease expecting it to.)

                  My point is simply that all too often I see the “freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences!” line used as a jolly justification for viciously attacking people who’ve said something unpleasant or just something that the Consequence Fan dislikes or disagrees with. “Consequences” used to not apply so much to someone who merely said they’d like to see a tax cut, or that they do not support people breaking the law, or that they prefer a different method of doing things, but now statements like these are viewed as halfway down the road to Hitler and anyone espousing such viewpoints gets served their “consequences” with a gleam of vengeful joy in their punishers’ eyes. And we can pat ourselves on the back all we like for being such good people that we won’t tolerate this view or that one, but when our method of dealing with dissent–not even dissent, but with “thought crimes(!)”–is simply to crush it, to punish it, to shame the person speaking it, maybe we’re not such good people. You say with utter confidence that the thoughts of others affect you because it changes how they act, but you can’t actually say that with confidence, because it may not be–often is not–true, just as it is not necessarily true that what they say or do changes how other people act.

                  And, to you and Anne (with a “e”), I am fully aware that a private company can fire anyone at any time for any reason. I agree it is extremely unwise, to say the least, to express such views in any kind of public forum where you are clearly identified as an employee of X, and to do so opens you up to being fired, and a company will do what it must to keep its public image positive and satisfy its customers (I am self-employed, and do not make ANY political comments, anywhere, under my own name). I am disgusted by the comment made by the OP’s former co-worker, as I said in my first reply to this discussion. I find it abhorrent. I am not surprised that he was fired for making such a gross and insensitive (to say the least) comment while representing himself as an employee of the OP’s company. I don’t actually disagree with his being fired, necessarily–were it my company I *might* have handled it differently, but it’s not, I’ve never been in that situation, and the comment was/is so very repulsive, and says such very repulsive things about the person who made it, that I can’t say exactly what I would or wouldn’t do.

                  My comment to which you’re replying, however, does not mention the OP’s letter at all, and is actually not about it but about free speech in general. I’m certainly not arguing that one should be able to go around wearing a t-shirt that says “I work at X Corp.,” while screaming insults and slurs at people, and experience no repercussions of that behavior at all. And as I specifically said, in exactly these words, I do not condone offending others. I do not think what the guy in OP’s letter said was okay. I am honestly unsure how or why you or anyone else got the impression that I am arguing that; I thought it was fairly clear that I was replying specifically to Two Cents’s comment here, but I guess I was wrong in that.

                  You may or may not be surprised, Anne (with an “e”) to know that I basically agree with your comment. My only issue is that what is blatantly abhorrent to one person is not or may not be to another, and I worry about both where those lines are drawn and the salivating glee with which some people seek to punish others for crossing them. (Again, excluding the comment from the OP’s letter, which I think any decent person would agree is blatantly abhorrent–but I’m talking about lines that are much more fuzzy.)

                8. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*


                  “Does the supporter of MLK deserve to lose his job, home, etc.?”

                  No, but someone who is a literal nazi and publicly supports political ideals basis revolves around genocide; or who worships the legacy of a bunch of states that committed treason because they wanted to own other people like cattle, yep, those people deserve to lose everything.

                  Not because they have a “different opinion”, or I merely dislike what they say, or even “there oughta be a law”. It’s because these are murderous ideologies that are already responsible for millions upon millions of deaths- MURDERS. Anyone with an ounce of human decency finds them abhorrent and wants nothing to do with anyone who supports them.

                  Nobody has the right to spread hatred and prejudice like that without consequences…but they all sure do seem to really want it. (For themselves and no one else.)

                9. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*


                  The things you keep bringing up as examples of typical things that get called “halfway to Hitler” seem incredibly mild…so mild, in fact that I feel like you are not telling us the whole story.

                  Because I have been in comment sections ALL OVER the internet, filled with people from all walks of life and all points of view, and the general trend I’ve seen, is that on sites that are NOT heavily skewed right wing/conservative, the comment that tend to get skewered & flame broiled really *are* pretty egregiously offensive and anti-social. Not (for example) people who “merely said they’d like to see a tax cut”, but people who use the opportunity to scream about the poor people they think are stealing “their” tax dollars or mooch healthcare or something else that’s equally bigoted and disgusting. I think you are trying really hard to be disingenuous about the whole thing, but another thing I’ve observed- anyone who uses the term “thought crime” as if it is a real thing people should be frightened of is not arguing in good faith.
                  Your use of inflammatory terms (vengeful joy? *SNORT*) to describe liberals and Consequence Fans (GO CONSEQUENCES!!!) just clinches it.

                10. Jojo*

                  Saying you are going to shoot up someplace is free speach. But the police can still come to your house because you said it. Yes, free speack can have consequences.

          1. Traffic_Spiral*

            Harassment and threats are illegal (along with inciting people to commit crimes, selling government secrets, blackmail, fraud, and a host of other crimes that involve “saying” something). What’s that got to do with the issue at hand?

            1. Anna*

              Plenty, especially if you spend any time on Twitter and have read up on anything that has to do with making threats or harassing someone online. It’s not so simple as “it’s illegal, so why get upset?” It’s not that it’s just “illegal” and that’s a magic bullet. It has to be plausible to even get the attention of law enforcement. Why do you think so many social media platforms are having to figure out how to sort it out themselves? Basically, it has everything to do with the conversation.

              1. Traffic_Spiral*

                Well, no. Nothing said here was illegal, a business owner just decided to fire an employee that had demonstrated he was an idiot. Therefore the technicalities of various legal/illegal speech actions have no relevance to this conversation.

          2. Gadfly*

            Why do so many people jump to the assumption that the only way to support free speech is absolutely and prioritized.

            I support free speech as one of many rights that are of approximately equal priority to me and which sometimes conflict. Free speech isn’t always the winner when tbey conflict. Other rights get a turn to play too…

        3. Knitting Cat Lady*

          1. I’m German. We do free speech differently here.

          2. Everything we do has some form of consequence. Social or otherwise. Speaking is something we do.

          3. I can say what I want. Everyone else gets to say what they want. I can decide about which people I associate with. I can decide based on their actions. Everyone else can do the same!

          4. Often, when you use your right to free speech, the CONSEQUENCE to that is other people using their FREE SPEECH to agree, disagree or debate with you. And sometimes the CONSEQUENCE is other people using their right of FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION to stop interacting with you.

          There are always consequences to what you say, unless you’re talking to yourself in an empty room.

          I’m not opposed to free speech. I’m opposed to assholes whining about their precious free speech when other people tell them that what they said was a shitty thing to say.

          1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

            Actually, what you outlined very closely adheres to the way U.S. courts have interpreted the right to free speech. From an employment perspective, the freedom of association includes employment. In other words, what you say can–with limitations–impact your employer’s choice to have you continue to be associated with your place of employment.

          2. Say what, now?*

            This is how it is in the US as well, but for some reason people have become confused about what it means to participate in free speech. People aren’t obligated to listen to you and they certainly don’t have to be around you if you insult them or their morals.
            There is also a misunderstanding of what free speech entails. For instance when you say “I think that all people of Group X should be killed in specific fashion!” that’s no longer free speech because you’ve made a detailed threat against someone. You shouldn’t be surprised if the police show up at your door and take you in for questioning.

            1. Joielle*

              Actually (sorry, I’m a lawyer, it’s in my blood), that might not even be enough, depending on the context. If you said to an assembled mob “I think that all people of Group X should be killed in specific fashion, so come on, everyone, let’s go over to the Group X meeting right now and kill them all!” – that would probably do it. A statement has to be pretty immediate for it to be considered “fighting words,” or pretty specific and detailed for it to be considered a “true threat,” which are two categories of constitutionally unprotected speech. It’s a high bar!

              1. Lord Gouldian Finch (formerly Decimus)*

                It’s old case law too. “If it were not assize time, I would run you through” is not a threat, because when it was said it was assize time. On the other hand, saying “I’m going to run you through” would probably be “fighting words” and a proper threat (although if you’re not wearing a sword the court will probably still have to consider it).

          3. Oranges*

            Can… can you come over here and whap that into people? I would love that. I would love it even more if it actually worked.

        4. MakesThings*

          Jaguar, this argument has been rehashed over and over on countless sites. You are espousing a 5 year old’s version of “free speech” and not the actual legal idea of Free Speech. No one can have freedom from consequences.

          1. fposte*

            Though I think that the legal idea of free speech varies from country to country, and not everybody here (including Jaguar) is posting from the U.S.

            1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

              But I think the idea that “No one can have freedom from consequences” is universal.

        5. LKW*

          Jaguar, the concept of free speech is that it is acceptable to criticize the government and not face consequences from said government. If you look around the world, there are multiple cases in 2017 where people were jailed for criticizing, questioning or poking fun at leaders.

          That said, here in the U.S. you are allowed to say publicly that you believe your state senator is a complete and total moron. He can not request you be arrested. However, if you were to say that he is a pedophile (and he is not a pedophile), he could request the authorities charge you with slander. If you wrote it in a newspaper, libel.

          This applies only to the government. Private business is not bound by this rule. If you’re shitty – you can be fired.

          1. First Amendment Lawyer*

            “However, if you were to say that he is a pedophile (and he is not a pedophile), he could request the authorities charge you with slander.”

            Um, only if it were done with actual malice. The standard is much higher for public figures.

            1. He needs a bogel for the glotch*

              So what you’re saying is, you cannot be arrested for calling Ted Cruz the Zodiac Killer if you aren’t serious? Because that’s a pretty popular joke. That would be a lot of arrests! (To clarify, I don’t actually think Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer. LKW’s comment just inspired an absurd thought movie that made me laugh.)

        6. Anne (with an "e")*

          I’m not opposed to free speech, Jaguar. I just recognize that there will always be consequences to what I or others say. Pointing out that there are consequences does not make one opposed to something.

          I have a sister who, imho, posts highly controversial things on Facebook and on her Twitter. I have tried to tell her that she should be more careful repeatedly. I am not so much opposed to her expressing herself as I am terrified that she’ll end up losing her job over one of her posts. (If it matters she is a super conservative who works for a museum where everyone else has a liberal POV.)

          1. Say what, now?*

            It’s the same principle as not discussing your political or religious point of view at work. You wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) tell coworkers that you think their religion is nonsense. You wouldn’t tell coworkers how to vote (or you shouldn’t). When you post these things online it’s basically like shouting on a street corner on a loop. ANYONE can see what you’re saying so the location of where you’re saying it becomes less important than the message and the way it makes people feel.

            1. LCL*

              This is why I don’t social media….
              Telling someone I work with, at work, that their religion is nonsense is rude and unprofessional and I would expect some sort of punitive involvement from management. Saying the same thing about religion on a social media post is just conversation. Still just as rude and possibly prejudiced, but not the same thing at all.

              1. Runner*

                The OP’s example was a comment made on Facebook, which someone captured in a screenshot. For all we know, it could have been a Facebook account closed/made private to all but the employee’s friends. For a while it seemed almost weekly there was news of someone fired for something they said on Facebook, or in a tweet, or on snapchat instagram youtube whatever. Now I tend to just quietly hear about it in person or online like here — I don’t know if that means it’s so common it’s rarely news anymore.

              2. Anna*

                It literally is not “just conversation” when it can have bearing on how you treat someone of that religion in a professional setting. Unsurprisingly, people who tend to espouse those sorts of views in private tend to also be jerks about it at work.

                If you honestly think someone who posts they think all Group X are criminals and shouldn’t be trusted can turn that switch off and work with someone from Group X, I don’t know what to say. It doesn’t work like that.

                1. Only here for the teapots*

                  Which is why it’s so terrifying to have people with bigoted and/or ignorant views on women & racial/sexual/religious minorities in law enforcement, medicine, government & other positions of power. Whenever someone huffs about how ‘everyone these days gets offended so easily’ or that certain groups find everything offensive, it’s not about social niceties, it’s about actual harm people suffer at the hands of people who espouse and speak this way, legally-protected or not.

              3. Kate 2*

                A conversation with the entire world. Unless you have your facebook locked down to the nth degree and the only people allowed to see it are your closest family and friends, you can’t be sure someone won’t dislike what you write and talk about it. Maybe even on their own Facebook to their 500 friends, with screenshots.

              4. Anne (with an "e")*

                I do not agree that saying something on social media is “just conversation.” It is social MEDIA. I don’t care how locked down you may think it is. It is online. It can be shared. If you are willing to post something with your real name attached to it, then you should be prepared to face the consequences.

            2. Raine*

              With religious commentary you can also potentially end up running afoul of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (there have been specific cases on religious harrassment in the workplace).

            3. WillowSunstar*

              This is why I do not post about politics or religion on Facebook, and I also never post anything I wouldn’t want my family to read, because they are connected to my Facebook page.

              1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                I don’t have immediate family to worry about, but I am FB friends with NONE of my in-laws for exactly that reason. I’m not sure any of them even know I am on it! (Husband won’t rat me out, he gets it! LOL!)

        7. Ossielot*

          As someone who has close family members who were interred by the US in WWII, who works with tribal entities, and who has stood on the front lines of protests, I personally find your argument juvenile and insulting.

          I have never known anyone who has stood on the front lines of defending free speech and thought who would agree that speech is or should be consequence-free.

          I want to retain my right to shun and shame racists, misogynists, homophobes, etc. One consequence of being that type of person and letting me know through your free speech is that I will not associate with you, purchase anything from you, or use my legal training to help you. That’s a consequence.

          To say any right should be exercised free of consequence is to say that only the person acting matters. The rights of the acted upon do not.

          No one exercises their rights in a vacuum.

          1. Kiki*

            “To say any right should be exercised free of consequence is to say that only the person acting matters. The rights of the acted upon do not.”

            This is the infinitely more eloquent version of something I’ve been trying to say for awhile. Do you mind if I quote it?

          2. Specialk9*

            Yes. As a Jew, I similarly boycott those who support white supremacy and other abhorrent beliefs, and I would expect any decent person I associate with to do the same. My free speech is to condemn Nazi alt righters, and to ensure that they have consequences for their calls for genocide and expulsion.

            Freedom of speech is not freedom from community consequences, it’s only freedom from government oppression.

            1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

              I cut off someone for good after they began dating a white supremacist and started using…let’s call it “problematic” language. Not outright slurs but…
              They were once a close friend and were previously related by marriage. I don’t care. They are out of my life for good.

          3. Candi*

            “To say any right should be exercised free of consequence is to say that only the person acting matters. The rights of the acted upon do not.”

            First, this needs to be on a t-shirt in Alison’s shop.

            Second, and more importantly, when phrased like that, it brings to the fore that this “freedom of consequence” would be another example of ignoring the victim and their rights -which is what set off this whole mess for the LW’s coworker. (Radomly pulling out another word like, say, “fanatic”, we could have go back and forth all day on discussing perception vs reality vs interpretation vs… But “scum” is pretty unequivocal.)

            We are responsible for the words we choose and the context in which we use them.

        8. Rusty Shackelford*

          if your response to someone mentioning freedom of speech is “there are consequences for what you say,” you might be more opposed to the principle of free speech than you think.

          I think you don’t understand the principle of free speech. At all.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            We teach our children, “If you tell another person to shut up [or worse], then they will probably be mad [or worse] at you because that is not very nice.”
            We teach children this.

            For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Nothing happens in a vacuum. And that is reality. To lead people to think that they can say whatever, whenever is absolutely cruel. That person will end up with all kinds of problems. We have to be responsible in our words and actions.

            Additional wrinkle. Companies are not democracies. Part of what we are compensated for is our willingness to get along with others. As employees we become ambassadors for that company. It’s part of what we compensated for.
            So let’s say “But Free Speech, Free Speech.” Let’s go with that point for a second. Any time someone hands us money we forfeit something. Look at insurance companies. If we want their coverage we have to do a long list of things in order to be eligible to receive money if we have a claim. We have to do it THEIR way not ours. Back to — “any time someone hands us money we forfeit something”.

            This is how the world works and to tell someone it does not work that way is very unfair.

            1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

              My brother and I had “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” hammered into us from day 1. That’s like, a basic!

              I also laugh because I remember being taught “don’t ever touch or annoy any animal when it is eating” as an ironclad rule, but if we did, and got growled/snapped at (or even bit), it was our own damn fault, what did we tell you? Which might sound harsh or shocking to some people, but it was an integral part of learning for ourselves that ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES.

        9. Casual Fribsday*

          So, I disagree with this, but I’m curious to see whether there were more thoughts behind that that you want to flesh out. I guess what I’m saying is I agree with the WTF comments, but I’d be willing to entertain your full argument if you wanted to share it.

          1. Parenthetically*

            I would be interested in this as well, because I absolutely, fundamentally disagree with Jaguar’s statement as I read it, and would love to see them explain why “you have the right to be a glassbowl but there could very well be real-life consequences to your glassbowlery” is somehow in opposition to the principle of free speech.

          2. Jesca*

            I agree. I would never ever be OK shutting down a discussion on what free speech is and what all it entails. It is a very fundamental concept and should always be in the back of our minds.

          3. BPT*

            I’m guessing he’s parroting the argument that’s been going around that “free speech is a larger concept than the first amendment, and that even if it’s not illegal, it’s wrong for anybody to try to silence you, because that goes against the entire concept of free speech.” Which of course is patently absurd, but it’s for people who want to face no repercussions for what they say. And they of course ignore the fact that being forced to tolerate any speech completely infringes on my right to 1) not have to listen to hateful speech, and 2) associate with the people I choose to.

          4. Jaguar*

            Obviously there will be consequences for what you say, but that says nothing about the ethics of those consequences. There are consequences for any decision people make: whether to have a child is an obvious one with obvious consequences. But as a progressive society, we value the ability to make that decision and, as a result, we see negative consequences for it as unfortunate and attempt to minimize those. Maybe that’s what people mean when they immediately say “freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences!” – that there really are consequences for saying something and people should be aware of them – but I don’t get that impression. I think it’s a threat meant to stop people from saying things. I think it’s a celebration of the fact that there are consequences for saying the wrong thing, not a caution about a lamentable reality.

            Someone mentioned the difference between the right of free speech and the social value of free speech and implied that making that distinction is stupid, which I don’t agree with and is relevant to the point I’m making. Twitter and Facebook, for instance, came under criticism in the past couple years for allowing people to post hateful things on their platforms. Obviously, the right of free speech is irrelevant to the matter: as private companies, they can allow or disallow whatever they want. What they decide to allow becomes a matter of principle: how willing are they to allow speech. Similarly, as members of society, we all have to grapple with how allowing we are going to be with what others say when we disagree with it. When people applaud a company for firing an employee when they said something disagreeable, I don’t think they can honestly claim to put much value on free speech: they’re clearly valuing censorship. That’s limited speech.

            1. sfigato.taylor*

              I live near berkeley, home of both the free speech movement and the “free speech” protests by far-right groups in 2017. While I’m concerned with some of the reactionary stances on the left, by and large the people who cry “free speech” are mostly people who want to be total jerks in a consequence-free environment (while at the same time calling out anyone who disagrees with THEM). I think people who are say really jerky things experiencing negative consequences as a result of the jerky things they say is part of free speech. I think we can ostracize actual nazis without devolving into an authoritarian state. If i said my boss was a big dumb idiot and it got back to him and he fired me, that would be a consequence of my speech.

              The employee attacked the family of a murder victim online, the attack made the news and the company was linked to the story, which meant they had to choose whether they defend the person who attacked a murder victim’s family, or whether they cut bait with the employee. The offense was pretty egregious. Being fired is a understandable consequence of that story making the news.

              1. First Amendment Lawyer*

                “While I’m concerned with some of the reactionary stances on the left, by and large the people who cry “free speech” are mostly people who want to be total jerks in a consequence-free environment (while at the same time calling out anyone who disagrees with THEM). ”

                Your evidence for this gem is what?

                1. sfigato*

                  In the past year, “free speech” largely become the rallying cry of far-right and white supremacist groups who want to antagonize people of color, gays, immigrants, and women with impunity. And show up in paramilitary gear. Eff them. In berkeley, when people showed up to protest the far-right groups (who were totally not racist! Except they were!), it became a riot. When we ignored them, they walked through the streets harassing people.

                  At the same time conservative states and jurisdictions are attempting to pass laws making it illegal for people to protest, or making it legal to kill people at protests, and the government is attempting to prosecute people for protesting. That worries me. labeling speech we dislike violence worries me. not allowing “climate change” to be mentioned in the government worries me (something that pre-dates trump, btw). telling nazis to eff off and having their be real-world consequences to their online racist ranting? That doesn’t worry me.

                2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                  “by and large the people who cry “free speech” are mostly people who want to be total jerks in a consequence-free environment (while at the same time calling out anyone who disagrees with THEM). ”

                  Your evidence for this gem is what?

                  Well, I’m not OP, but I see this attitude a LOT from conservative/right leaning commenters, no matter where I have seen them post. It’s rampant.

                3. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                  And MRAs, conspiracy theorists, and so on…people with a chip on their shoulder and an agenda.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              Well I really feel the need to point out that some types of speech (slander, libel, incitement) are already regulated because they cause direct harm. Hate speech, with its inflammatory rhetoric, kind of falls into that category. We don’t litigate it in the U.S. the way they do in, say, the U.K, or in Germany, Israel, and fifteen other European countries where it’s illegal to deny the Holocaust.

              But because it has no redeeming value to society at large, I think most people agree that it pushes the limits of tolerance. That is, if we tolerate everything, eventually things we really probably shouldn’t tolerate in a healthy society become tolerable. So having consequences for the intolerable, while they don’t necessarily have to be legal consequences, is one of the ways we keep society running smoothly for everybody.

              It’s like visiting relatives at Christmas (or whatever). You have a bunch of people who don’t see eye-to-eye on everything all crammed into one place. In order to get along and perform the task of celebrating whatever holiday they’ve gathered to observe, they agree not to bring up certain topics of conversation while you’re in that particular place.

              Nobody’s stopping you from thinking those things, or from going online and unloading like, “GOD MY GRANDMA IS SUCH A BLUE UNIT OF WINTER PRECIPITATION I F*CKING THINK WE SHOULD MELT ALL [ETHNICITIES] WITH A HEAT GUN THE SIZE OF FORT KNOX.” You’re not being censored from saying it at all–you’re being asked to not say it in Grandma’s house. If she wants to let you do so, then fine.

              Nobody’s taking away your right to say it. They’re just saying that in larger society, we’ve deemed it unacceptable to talk about melting people with a heat gun, and if you do and it gets out, you might not be invited back to Grandma’s. And that’s on you, not her. Grandma doesn’t have to tolerate it in her private residence.

              1. Jaguar*

                I never said Grandma has to tolerate it – the company is allowed to fire the guy. The company’s allowed to fire someone for a lot of reasons – long hair, let’s say – that we might find a shitty reason to fire someone over. For Grandma, it’s even worse: she ban her grandson from her private residence for being gay or mixed-race or whatever. What you can do is totally separate from what is ethical to do. I’m not talking about what you can do. I’m talking about ethics.

                1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                  It’s totally ethical to shun people for being unmitigated assholes.

            3. Plague of frogs*

              “When people applaud a company for firing an employee when they said something disagreeable, I don’t think they can honestly claim to put much value on free speech: they’re clearly valuing censorship. That’s limited speech.”

              Incorrect. The fire-ee spoke freely, the company spoke freely, and the customers of the company spoke freely. If you try to change that so that only the fire-ee gets to speak freely, you are trying to limit speech.

              Look, no one is preventing the fire-ee from speaking all he wants. No one is censoring his speech. They are just refusing to associate with him because his opinions are offensive to them.

                1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                  I have to agree, the employees shouldn’t be applauding the company for firing the person who said something disagreeable abhorrent.

                  They should be having a parade and throwing a block party! WHOOOO! Party poppers for everyone!

            4. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

              Social consequences of free speech are, in and of themselves, also expressions of free speech.

              If my friend tells me she thinks Hitler had the right idea, my freedom of speech is reflected in telling her we are no longer friends and telling her to leave my house. That’s a consequence of her action — but to remove that consequence would constitute an abridgement of my freedoms. That’s the balance here.

              You have the right to say what you want. You do not have the right to insist that others censor themselves (see what I did there?) in response.

              1. Jaguar*

                That depends on what you mean by insist. Is calling something censorship insistence that it not be done? I absolutely have the right to insist, then. Is insisting that I think they broke the law by exercising freedom of association in firing the guy? Well, I would still have the right to say that – the issue would be that I was wrong, which is maybe what you’re saying?

              2. First Amendment Lawyer*

                I would note that several states do, in fact, have statutes protecting free speech in the workplace. From the ABA:

                “State statutes limiting speech-related terminations are similarly incomplete. At the protective end of the spectrum, five states (California, Colorado, Montana, New York, and North Dakota) prohibit employers from punishing employees for legal off-duty activities that do not conflict with the employer’s business-related interests. Nine additional states more narrowly protect employees who engage in political activities and five states similarly protect individuals who sign initiative, referendum, recall, or candidate petitions.”

                No one is arguing that “free speech” guarantees you an audience or forces people to listen. But in my view, these states are taking the correct approach. As a practical matter, a private employer depriving someone of their livelihood for exercising free speech vitiates the concept of free and open debate.

                Hopping up and down on one knee and hollering “but consequences!” does not change that. The “consequence” of talking to an empty room differs in kind, and not merely in degree, from depriving someone of the ability to put food on the table. A knock on the door in the middle of the night in Stalinst Russia was a “consequence” of free speech there, too.

                Finally, although I personally disagree with it, the argument that “victims’ rights groups have too much power” is a legitimate one and is central to the debate over criminal laws.

                1. Anion*

                  “No one is arguing that “free speech” guarantees you an audience or forces people to listen. But in my view, these states are taking the correct approach. As a practical matter, a private employer depriving someone of their livelihood for exercising free speech vitiates the concept of free and open debate.

                  Hopping up and down on one knee and hollering “but consequences!” does not change that. The “consequence” of talking to an empty room differs in kind, and not merely in degree, from depriving someone of the ability to put food on the table. A knock on the door in the middle of the night in Stalinist Russia was a “consequence” of free speech there, too.”

                  Thank you.

                  I disagree with you on victim’s rights groups, and I don’t think I’d want the guy in the letter working for or with me, either. But the idea that it’s okay to pound down someone for merely expressing a thought–a thought that, while insulting and gross, is not actually causing anyone physical harm–really disturbs me.

                2. I can't think of a username*

                  @Anion, your thoughts are interesting, but what about mental/emotional harm? OP’s co-worker’s comment no doubt caused plenty of harm for the victim’s family, just not physical harm.

                  @First Amendment Lawyer, the ABA quote you shared said “At the protective end of the spectrum, five states (California, Colorado, Montana, New York, and North Dakota) prohibit employers from punishing employees for legal off-duty activities that do not conflict with the employer’s business-related interests.” Couldn’t one make the argument that such awful comments do conflict with the employer’s business-related interests? For example, my girlfriend and I decided to stop using Uber when we learned members of their corporate office went to great lengths to cover up rampant sexual harassment. We are far from the only ones to do so. Should the offending workers not be fired for harming their employer’s ability to do business?

            5. Forrest*

              If you’re going to talk about the ethics of consequences, then you need to talk about the ethics of what lead to those consequences. This isn’t a one way street.

              How is calling the family of a murder victim “victims’ rights scum” ethical, particularly if you’re only doing it for your own interests and not for social as a whole?

            6. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

              “Maybe that’s what people mean when they immediately say “freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences!” – that there really are consequences for saying something and people should be aware of them”

              That is exactly what people mean when they say this.

        10. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          That’s ridiculous.

          What you’re talking about isn’t free speech, it’s preferred first speaker — in other words, that no one else has the right to respond to the speaker’s expression. That curtails free speech for everyone else.

          I have the right to tell my neighbor she’s a horrible person. She has the right to not invite me to her Christmas party because I insulted her. That is the kind of consequence people are talking about.

          1. One of the Sarahs*

            Yes, thank you!

            So much of the “but you can’t criticise them, it’s FREE SPEECH!!!!!!!!!” types seem to think conversations are first come, first served – that once someone says something, no one else can disagree. It’s a primary school mentality, and utterly bizarre to me.

          2. First Amendment Lawyer*

            “I have the right to tell my neighbor she’s a horrible person. She has the right to not invite me to her Christmas party because I insulted her. That is the kind of consequence people are talking about.”

            No, it’s not. In the case at hand, we’re talking about depriving someone of their livelihood as a consequence of speech, not missing out on a party invitation. Surely you can see the difference.

            1. Sfigato*

              He did something embarrassing and pretty reprehensible that made the local news, and the news story tied the embarrassing and reprehensible incident to the company, which created bad PR for them and forced them to choose between keeping on an employee who has the poor judgement to attack victims of violent crime on public forums and who is creating a lot of negative publicity for them, or let the employee go. To me this story is more about the bad PR generated for the company by the employee’s actions rather than what the employee said on their facebook page.
              And what the employee said was hard to defend, especially for a company.
              I will say that this practice of doxxing people and outing their icky social media posts to their employers and schools makes me uncomfortable. It feels sneaky and vindictive. But if you are going to call families of violent crime victims “scum” in a public space (or use racist language, or etc.etc.etc.), you gotta know that someone might catch feelings about it.

            2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

              People who don’t want to deal with the negative consequences of acting like a giant asshole, can solve this problem INSTANTLY by not acting like a giant asshole.

              But they don’t get to keep acting like giant assholes, and then cry about when they lose their friends/spouse/job/good standing in the community/etc and whine about their rights to “freeze peach!!1!11!!”

        11. Forrest*

          I’m not sure what you’re advocating here. The only way to be support of free speech is to sit there and just listen and don’t feel any reaction and if you do feel a reaction you might be opposed to free speech?

          If someone is sitting there and telling me how awesome genocide is, I’m not opposing free speech if I decide to remove this guy for my life or stick up for him if his job fires him.

          Free speech isn’t a one way concept.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            “Obviously, the right of free speech is irrelevant to the matter: as private companies, they can allow or disallow whatever they want.”

            Yeah, I am losing track here also. This company decided to disallow the continued employment of this person. So this means the firing is to be expected, which seems to be in opposition with the rest of the point somehow.

      2. IT is not EZ*

        It’s a bit more subtle than that.

        “First Amendment Rights” = Federal (and most State) governments cannot punish you for what you say (except in very narrowly defined ‘hate speech’ or ‘inciting a riot’ exceptions)

        “Free Speech” = The moral stance that anyone can can speak their mind, on any topic, with any degree of restraint and vitriol.

        Keeping that subtlety in mind, yes, Free Speech should protect one from severe consequences like getting fired. (Of course, if you’re a PR spokesman for Special Olympics, I can understand why they might let you go if you start making social media posts supporting Eugenics)

        Personally, I think we need to move to more of a Free Speech model, where anyone can say what they like, regardless of how many people are triggered. Doesn’t mean I won’t think they’re an a-hole, nut I’m not going to try and get them fired over it.

        1. Anna*

          Having someone who espouses eugenics or that all of Group X are criminals and not face consequences is not a world I want to live in, thanks. I work with a diverse group of clients from all sorts of backgrounds. You can bet if I found out someone I work with thinks some of them are less than human because they fit into a specific demographic, I would want them out of there so fast. It doesn’t work that everyone gets to have their freedom of expression and we all just get along. History has shown us that and it’s really surprising you choose to ignore it.

          1. LCL*

            You might be surprised if you could question your clients and they felt safe to speak freely about the prejudices they hold. Unfortunately our brains seek to sort and make patterns, which, can eventually lead to stereotyping. It’s the negative side of being human, which, hopefully, we are all working on defeating.

            1. Anna*

              I have no idea what prejudices my clients hold have to do with the views staff hold since staff have more power than our clients. It would be far more harmful to our clients for a coworker to have and voice those views than it would be harmful for our clients to have and express them.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              My experience in human services is that clients can say pretty much whatever they want. They can drop the N word, or any other horrible word we can think of, and nothing happens.

              I think Anna is referring to staff people. I too would despair if a staff person paraded their biases around for all to see. The service providers are suppose to role model the proper behaviors.

              1. tigerlily*

                My experience is human services is decidedly different – we have definitely refused people access to our building and services for hate speech.

        2. Naruto*

          OK, but then what you’re really saying is “I don’t think people should be fired for being a-holes.”

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Am chuckling. We have plenty of examples here were the AHs are NOT fired. What happens next is all the good workers quit.

          2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

            And guess what kind of people usually think that way?

            I’ll give you a hint:


        3. Marthooh*

          “Keeping that subtlety in mind, yes, Free Speech should protect one from severe consequences like getting fired. (Of course, if you’re a PR spokesman for Special Olympics, I can understand why they might let you go if you start making social media posts supporting Eugenics)”

          So Free Speech (the moral stance) should protect one from severe consequences like getting fired, unless… what exactly? Unless it’s Special Olympians who are “triggered” as you say? Don’t companies get to make their own decisions about what’s bad for business?

          You say it’s subtle, but you’re actually being pretty simplistic here.

          1. myswtghst*

            Agreed. It seems like some people want to turn this into a slippery slope argument where we can’t be trusted to determine which speech should have consequences so none of it should, but most of the time it is pretty clear when someone has crossed the line.

        4. Koko*

          “Personally, I think we need to move to more of a Free Speech model, where anyone can say what they like, regardless of how many people are triggered.”

          That is already the case. Nobody is being stopped from saying anything offensive.

          “Doesn’t mean I won’t think they’re an a-hole, nut I’m not going to try and get them fired over it.”

          That’s your reaction to the presence of an asshole. Other people prefer not to be in the company of assholes. It sounds like what you’re actually saying is, “I think anyone should be able to say what they like, and nobody is allowed to treat them any differently because of what they say.” It sounds like you want to restrict people’s responses to ideas.

        5. Detective Amy Santiago*

          You can say whatever you want. You can’t stop people from reacting to what you say.

          It sounds like you want to be able to say rude and outrageous things without any sort of controversy or push back. Which would be limiting the free speech rights of the people who are receiving your message.

          1. Anion*

            Funny, that’s always the go-to assumption of anti-free-speech people: that those of us who support free speech “just want to be able to say rude and outrageous things without any sort of controversy or push back.” I support free speech; have you ever seen me say truly rude and outrageous things here? Not just things with which you disagree, but have I ever made racist statements? -phobic ones? Have I ever called others here stupid? I actually think I’m someone here who does not regularly refer to other commenters or those with whom I disagree by insulting, dismissive names, and/or does not regularly imply that anyone who doesn’t think exactly the way I do is a bad person, and I also think there aren’t many here who can say that.

            No one is suggesting that people shouldn’t be allowed to react to, and have and express opinions on, what other people think and say. No one is suggesting that you should be forced to remain friends with someone who uses the n-word or expresses any views you dislike. But there is a difference between personal/social “consequences,” like maybe you find yourself friendless, and larger ones like finding yourself jobless, homeless, and without any possibility of that changing because your name was plastered all over the internet as an evil scumbag by a mob of strangers who don’t know you and had never heard of you before. There is a difference between choosing not to be friends with someone you know irl and stumbling across some rando online and deciding to spread the word far and wide that they–gasp–have views you find offensive, so let’s go get ‘im! It is a slippery slope, and once we start cheering on the idea that anyone who steps a foot out of line should be punished severely, what’s next?

            That’s the issue that most of us have, and that is the reason why we do not applaud when someone who makes a nasty comment online finds their livelihood and home taken from them. Once we start equivocating and chipping away at freedoms, where does it end? What’s okay to say today may be offensive tomorrow; what’s offensive today may be acceptable tomorrow, and who is the judge of that? Who says one person is better than another, and so has the right to decide what is and is not okay for others to think or say? When people who step out of line are literally being sent for “re-education,” isn’t that rather terrifying?

            No one is saying people should be allowed to say anything they like and no one should think of them differently, disagree, or treat them differently. What we are saying is that maybe some stranger saying or thinking something offensive doesn’t (usually) directly affect you/your life and maybe they deserve to be ignored instead of figuratively drawn and quartered all over the internet. Maybe you could just not listen. Maybe we could all stop caring so much what other people say and treating them like objects of derisive sport. Maybe we could just shrug and say we disagree instead of reporting them to their employers for the crime of saying something we don’t like. I once had a woman scream at me in public for politely declining to come near her “friendly” dog; to this day I have no idea why she cared so much what I, a perfect stranger, thought, or why it was so important to her that I–again, a perfect stranger–love her dog. But to her my “No, thanks, I’ll go the other way around,” was a vicious offense, and it’s possible that if she knew my name she would have been trying to start a mob against me (and the truth in so many of these cases ends up not supporting the accusation, too, which is another reason I’m uneasy about the concept of “punishing” those who do not express the “correct” opinion).

            Those of us talking about free speech are talking about a lot more than “the freedom to insult people.” We’re talking about speakers being silenced and/or no-platformed, about groups being prevented by violence from meeting, about viewpoints and arguments being banned, about facts hidden, about lives destroyed. That’s not simplistic, it’s not foolish, and it’s not okay.

            1. Oranges*

              But… everyone’s no-platformed. Everyone has views that deviate from the “norm” some that deviate far from the norm, and that’s okay. It’s okay that I can’t get up and say “I wonder what human flesh tastes like” or “I want to experiment on humans sometimes”. Because society has deemed those to have costs for saying and for very good reason.

              My life might be destroyed by having those thoughts/ideas and saying them out-loud. Why I am angry though is my life is much much much more likely to be destroyed by having views about coding and being a woman (online spaces) or being gay (intolerant places). Yes, the above shouldn’t happen. But it does. I have to live with that. I wish I didn’t. So when people come up and say “This person shouldn’t have their world destroyed by saying a vile thing” excuse me when I go “I shouldn’t have to worry about my world being destroyed by just simply existing”.

              I want to sarcastically say “Welcome to my life and I have it easy compared to most” whenever it happens also. Like y’all are scared of being doxxed online? Of being the victims of a mob? Hah! Also, this line of “no one should have their lives ruined by what they say online” often only comes up when it’s a white male doing the saying which is really really telling. So I’m gonna go over there and have a nice quiet break and try to breathe because I think I’m riled up and frustrated for obvious reasons.

              1. Anion*

                You’ve been the victim of an internet mob, too? Ugh, that sucks. It did basically ruin my life, and my career, and I am still trying to get back in the saddle, so to speak. I am so sorry that it happened to you, as well. It’s horrific, isn’t it?

                I am also sorry that you, too, live in constant fear of it happening again, and that you, too, find yourself terrified to speak. As far as I’m concerned, that makes us sisters (just as all women are my sisters), and I would and will never attempt to belittle your fears or imply that mine or anyone else’s are bigger or more important. Where we differ, I guess, is that I don’t want to see it happen to anyone else, and take no pleasure in seeing it happen; where we agree wholeheartedly is that you should NOT have to worry about your world being destroyed by just simply existing. No one should have to worry about that. It’s sad that we live in a world where violence or hatred can affect anyone at any time; I guess that’s the cost of being human and living among humans. I’d still rather live as a free human among free humans, though, than live in a country that is not free, where my life as a woman would be much worse than it is, where my career would not even be a possibility for me because I’m a woman. I believe freedom (including the freedom to speak our minds and express controversial ideas) is why we women have made so much progress in the last century or two, and because of that I believe curtailing freedom is anti-progress.

                Perhaps you only ever see “no one should have their lives ruined by what they say online” (which is, btw, not specifically what I said) when it’s a white male doing the saying; that has not been my experience at all, so my saying it now has no such connotations (and I would appreciate you not ascribing them to me, thanks). But just as I don’t think people generally (that’s not “no one, ever,” that’s your average everyday private person who happens to make some comment) deserve to have their lives ruined for saying something that doesn’t follow the party line on the internet, I certainly don’t believe that anyone should have their lives destroyed for having views about coding and being a woman, or for being gay, either.

                (I also don’t think anyone should have their lives ruined for saying, “I wonder what human flesh tastes like,” though, either–honestly, you kind of confused me with this one because I have said exactly that; of course I’m not *that* curious, and would never actually *try* it, but intellectual curiosity is intellectual curiosity, and there’s nothing wrong with expressing it [I think intellectual curiosity is a good thing; I think imagination is a good thing]. I mean, I’d be surprised to learn that there are people who watched the “Sanctuary” storyline on The Walking Dead, at least, and didn’t have that thought run through their mind at some point. Words and actions aren’t the same thing–which is another reason why I do not support curtailing speech.)

                I have to admit I’m confused at the idea that you personally are afraid that you could have your life ruined for saying “the wrong thing” online, while supporting the idea that it’s okay to ruin someone’s life because they said “the wrong thing” online, though. What you’re describing is exactly the thing I am arguing against–at least in part, because another part of it (the bigger part) is a much larger issue that you either refuse to consider/address, are not interested in considering/addressing, or do not understand. I will not speculate on which of those it is; I’ll just drop it, I guess.

                I am certainly sorry that you’re riled up and frustrated by my belief in personal freedom, and did not intend to upset you or anyone else. I admit I do not understand why that should be the case, but then, I also do not understand why you disagree with me on the subject. (Freedom of speech as a concept, as a value, as an ideal, as a law, does not and should not apply only to the white males you seem to think I’m defending.) I am genuinely confused, in other words, as to why you’re riled up and frustrated, but I apologize again for whatever it is I said that upset you. It is never my intention to do so, to you or to anyone else.

                1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                  If you really can’t see how Oranges fearing online retaliation for BEING a woman/gay is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT than some asshole fearing online retaliation for HARASSING her for being a woman/gay, then I don’t think you are ever going to be able to understand what people are arguing here.

            2. Koko*

              I do generally disagree with internet mob justice and with firings being called for by internet mobs. But I think the locus for addressing that is with the internet mobs, not with the businesses who react to them.

              If a business is legitimately concerned that employing someone is going to hurt their business, it makes perfect sense to drop that employee – if they don’t, they may have to lay someone off down the line when sales slump – so I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect the business to rise above the fray and stand by an employee who is threatening their survival as a business. Ultimately they need to retain the freedom to fire people when they deem it necessary.

              How do you stop internet mobs from calling for firings? I don’t have a clue. Internet mobs are at the heart of many social problems currently facing our society. As the philosopher said, “The problem of mankind is thus: He has paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions, and godlike technology.” We have developed communication and transportation technology faster than we’ve evolved a social framework or even a cognitive ability to interact with the incomprehensible number of people that technology allows us all to easily interact with.

              1. Specialk9*

                It feels dishonest and strawman-y to say “well if you think free speech can have consequences then you must support mob vigilantism, doxxing, and lynching.” It’s actually not the same thing at all. Criminal behavior is still criminal. Ostracizing jerks and Nazis is well within our rights, and insisting we don’t get to infringes very heavily on our free speech and free association.

                1. Anna*

                  Agreed. Nobody here has said that mob vigilantism is okay or that doxxing someone who was offensive is the right course of action. There is no situation where you have to allow all speech without consequences OR you have to have a mob mentality where people doxx others and ruin their lives. You can actually call someone out and report their shitty post to their employer and they get fired for being a trash human and that’s it.

                2. Candi*

                  It’s particularly strawmanning since there are multiple posts before the time stamp on that one that discuss how the consequences for saying something horrible can be no more than “Here’s your stuff, I don’t want to see you again” or “Here’s your last check, goodbye”. Hefty for the receiver, but not out of proportion the way internet mobs tend to get.

                  You say something nasty, you will get a reaction. Sometimes that reaction is a shutdown or tossed out the door. The fact of this speaking/reaction proceeds any concept of freedom of speech, and freedom of speech does not preclude it. If anything, it encourages free speech, because while the local priest or noble equivalents can rage against you, he can’t have the secular authorities throw you in jail for shutting down -ist or other awful statements. (That’s why they have to go through these complicated trumped up charges/blackmail/other crap.)

                3. Anion*

                  Wow, saying that feels rather dishonest and strawman-y to me, too, so it’s a good thing that’s not remotely what I said. Repeating that incorrect interpretation/accusation more than once doesn’t make it true. The fact that you continue to claim that’s what I’m saying seems to me like either you’re the one creating a strawman, your reading comprehension and reasoning skills are truly that poor, or you are unable to grasp the idea of an argument or concept that exists outside of this one specific letter on this one specific website. Or, you know, you simply jump at any chance to be personally insulting toward me (to be fair, only one or two people in this entire thread have bothered to refrain from deliberately insulting me as a person, though, so you’re not alone there) and to interpret anything I say as whatever it is you expect me to say, rather than what I *actually* say.

                  I have not once said that free speech should be utterly without repercussions or effects of any kind.

                  I have not once said that no one has the right to dislike you because of what you say or think.

                  I have not once said that a workplace does not have the right to fire you for making public statements (or private ones) they dislike or find offensive.

                  I have not once said that I think it’s wrong for a workplace to do so.

                  I have not once said that I condone, support, enjoy, or in any way approve of offending people, insulting people, or using slurs.

                  I CERTAINLY did not say or even imply that you/we “don’t get to ostracize jerks and Nazis,” or that no one has the right to do so.

                  In fact, I have *repeatedly* said the *exact opposite* of all of those things. REPEATEDLY. In EVERY SINGLE COMMENT I’VE MADE. FFS.

                  The fact that I keep being accused of saying those things is beginning to get very tiring, and very upsetting.

                  If you have a response to an actual point I made, feel free to let me know. If all you want to do is discuss why all the things I DIDN’T say are so wrong, accuse me (incorrectly) of saying them, call me more names, claim I’m just too stupid and immature to understand why you’re right and I’m wrong, explain why I and my thoughts and experiences don’t matter, and tell me why I, someone who makes my living as a creative artist, shouldn’t be displeased by the idea of the censorship of ideas, then don’t bother.

                  For my part, I promise to never attempt to have an intellectual and/or philosophical discussion about ideas here again.

                  Have a lovely night.

                4. Anion*

                  @Koko Of course the locus for addressing that is with the internet mobs. Internet mobs are made up of people who mob up basically at random, so what better way to attempt to stop internet mobs from forming than to discuss them with people, and to consider, together, whether or not anything is really worth mobbing together in that fashion? And what better group of people is there than this one, to discuss why censorship and free speech matter so much? Right?

                  @Candi If you’re referring to one of my posts, you might want to consider that some of us start a reply/comment and then get involved in other things, and sometimes do not get a chance to return to that reply for hours. A comment with a time stamp of ten pm might have been started at four, and if one doesn’t refresh the screen (because one is in the middle of composing a reply), then once does not see all those previous replies with earlier timestamps until one’s own, non-editable comment is posted.

                  But do feel free to continue sneering at me and accusing me of dishonesty and/or being disingenuous if you wish, of course.

                  @Anna I’m not aware of anyone accusing anyone here of saying that, or claiming that it’s an all-or-nothing situation, so that all works out just fine, doesn’t it.

                5. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                  If most of the people here are interpreting your posts to mean the opposite of what you intend, it’s not a problem with their comprehension, it’s a problem with your delivery.

            3. Galatea*

              “We’re talking about speakers being silenced and/or no-platformed, about groups being prevented by violence from meeting, about viewpoints and arguments being banned, about facts hidden, about lives destroyed. That’s not simplistic, it’s not foolish, and it’s not okay.”

              I mean — this already happens, it just happens to people who are marginalized in some way. There have been HUGE strides in LGBT rights and liberation in the last few years, but I absolutely remember when being outed was life destroying. Even now, my friends who are teachers keep things HARD under wraps, especially if they teach elementary school. Is “just speech” that outs someone as trans, that exposes them to violence and prejudice, that loses them their job or housing (it’s still legal to fire/evict someone for being gay or trans in many states!).

              I don’t know. I think you’re vastly, VASTLY underestimating how much “just” speech that is actively hateful can no-platform people. Any woman writing about tech is going to get truly awful, vile shit posted. Out trans people receive similar hate speech. Are you really that comfortable telling marginalized people to take up less room, be less visible, be less known, talk less, post less, and then “just ignore” violent hatefulness? Isn’t that in and of itself silencing, no-platforming, and cutting down on speech?

              1. Anion*

                “I mean — this already happens, it just happens to people who are marginalized in some way.”

                Sorry, was it not clear that A) I’m aware of that; and B) that’s why I mentioned it?

                Can you maybe explain to me why I keep saying “free speech for all” and I keep getting replies that imply their authors think I’ve said “free speech for straight white males only?”

                “I think you’re vastly, VASTLY underestimating how much “just” speech that is actively hateful can no-platform people.”

                Yes, I must be, because I can think of no other reason why I would be espousing the strong “It’s wrong to shout people down and silence them, doing so is violating the ideal of free speech which applies to all of us, free speech is more than just a law, people should be able to express even opinions you disagree with without being shouted down and silenced, and the shouting down and silencing of opposing viewpoints is akin to fascism” viewpoint I’ve repeatedly expressed here. It MUST be because I’m unaware of how internet mobs and vitriol aimed at others can be used to silence them.

                It cannot, after all, be because I do not underestimate it at all, or because I have personally been a victim of it, or because I believe silencing others is wrong full stop. Foolishly, I thought I’d made that clear over and over again, but it seems there is a whole world of unintended subtext in my posts that is leading people to read my repeated arguments against silencing people because you disagree with them or dislike them as applause for silencing people because you disagree with them or dislike them.

                “Are you really that comfortable telling marginalized people to take up less room, be less visible, be less known, talk less, post less, and then “just ignore” violent hatefulness?”

                I’m not remotely comfortable with that, and since–again–it’s not even anything LIKE what I’ve said, and is in fact the exact opposite of everything I’ve said, I’d love it if you could tell me why you asked me that question.

                (P.S. Also, why the repeated quotes around “just speech?” You’re not quoting me, there; where did they come from?)

                1. galatea*

                  …yeah okay, if we’re being sarcastic —

                  You’re right, people telling me I’m a disgusting abomination freakshow who should get sexually assaulted, murdered, and stuffed in a dumpster is DEFINITELY the price I should pay for existing as a lesbian of color on the internet. For sure, waves of harassment to innocuous stuff, like being a tech reporter AND a woman, is the same level of morally wrong as tweeting a rude word to an unrepentant Nazi. Absolutely, shouting someone down for existing as a woman is the same as shouting someone down for tweeting racial slurs at a black person.

                  To be clear, I’m saying a couple of things:

                  1. “They deserve to be ignored…. Maybe you could just not listen” is not necessarily an option. Even outside the realm of actively harassing people, stereotype threat absolutely affects how much a marginalized person can participate in — I mean, literally anything. Knowing people you interact with hold you in contempt changes people’s behavior. Knowing a company is a-okay with employing someone who literally thinks you should be literally killed — do you really think that doesn’t ALSO silence people?

                  2. “I don’t want to be friends with this person” and “I don’t want to be coworkers with this person” are not really as far apart as you seem to think they are. They are both social consequences for doing bad things. Firing someone is NOT THE SAME as going to their house and taking all their money! It really isn’t! Getting fired is a perfectly normal social consequence for all SORTS of behavior (insulting your coworkers, insulting a client, never bathing, etc). And “I don’t want to be around a person who has made it clear they don’t respect $group” is not the same thing as punishing every single person who has ever said anything even slightly unorthodox on the internet, and honestly, I think you know it.

                  3. Frankly, I think it’s really intellectually dishonest to argue that anybody who is okay with there being social consequences to being awful, even online, is like two steps away from being down with lynch mobs, doxxers, and state-sponsored reeducation camps. I mean — what?? What on earth???

                  Look, you’re the one riding to the defense of people who have experienced consequences for being unrepentantly terrible people; perhaps unsurprisingly, you’re getting a whooooole bunch of pushback for acting like firing someone for being a jerk is the equivalent of driving female games reporters off the internet.

                  p.s. scare quotes were mine.

                2. Anion*


                  Sorry, I’m very sorry, but WTF are you talking about?

                  Did you actually read my previous reply?

                  Where in the world did you see me say anything REMOTELY LIKE “Yes, the price you should pay for existing (&c) is [the horrible insults you’ve received?” Seriously, WHERE??

                  Where in the world did you see me say anything REMOTELY LIKE “Waves of harassment for [being yourself] is the same level of morally wrong as tweeting a rude word to an unrepentant Nazi?”

                  How many times do I have to state unequivocally that I do not agree with statements like that at ALL before someone, anyone, actually reads it and believes me? How many times do I have to say “I believe in free speech for all, and NO ONE should face harassment and insults for their sex/the color of their skin/their sexual orientation/whatever” before someone, anyone, actually reads that and believes me?

                  I apologize for my sarcasm, but if you’d just spent the last several hours seeing people ascribe to you comments and sentiments which you have never made or expressed, and refuting them to you as if you’d said them, and repeatedly ignoring your protests so as to double down on the accusations and insults, you might get a little sarcastic yourself, especially when a comment came from as far out of left field as yours did and seems to take as given that you not only want to see marginalized groups hurt and destroyed, but that you’ve been actively promoting that idea all along, when in fact you’ve been doing nothing of the kind and are actually promoting the opposite.

                  I asked Detective Amy Santiago above if she has ever seen me say anything racist or anti-gay or anything like that. She has not replied, but no one else has come forward with any examples, either. Do you have one? Have I somehow posted in my sleep without being aware of it, and somewhere in this long thread that I have not finished reading is a comment from me full of such horrible garbage? Because I honestly cannot understand why I am being repeatedly accused of being racist and anti-gay simply for saying I do not support fascism or restrictions on speech.

                  I was not being sarcastic when I asked, more than once, if you could explain to me why I keep being spoken to as if I have somehow stood up and yelled “Three cheers for Hitler!” simply because I support free speech and have found, in my experience, that those who love to talk about how “free speech has consequences” tend to be the same people who are always urging the restriction of free speech. That is not the same thing as saying “People who like to talk about there being consequences of free speech are just itchin’ to dox people.” It’s saying that in my experience, those who want to restrict free speech are the ones who enjoy talking about “consequences,” and those who join in internet hate mobs have, in my experience, been the same ones who then airily dismiss telling strangers on the internet to kill themselves by saying, “Well, speech has consequences.” To me it’s akin to the jerks who, let’s say, scream about and insult female tech writers and then airily dismiss their harassment by saying, “If she didn’t want to be criticized/harassed/insulted/threatened, she shouldn’t have taken a job writing for a tech site.” I’m sure you are familiar with those people, that mentality? That is the mentality I am condemning, and I condemn it for the same reasons you do, and the fact that I’m condemning it at the moment in the context of a discussion about free speech doesn’t mean I condemn it any less in other situations. (And it certainly doesn’t mean I only support free speech for white men.)

                  Just as you (correctly) say that knowing other people are thinking hateful thoughts affects your behavior or knowing that such ugliness is considered okay affects your behavior, so for me does knowing that people believe women who step a foot out of line deserve to be harassed and insulted, knowing that there are people out there who practically lick their chops when they see some dumb kid make a bad joke or some moron say something offensive because it means they get to unleash heck and make themselves feel powerful affects and bothers me. I think ugliness breeds ugliness. I think when the “good” people engage in such behavior it tells the “bad” people that they don’t have to hold themselves to any standards, either, and gives them “permission” to then do things like go after female tech writers with impunity. Hey, the fashionable thing on the internet is to get ragey and start hurling insults and epithets, right? The fashionable thing on the internet is to eavesdrop on strangers and report their thoughtcrimes to the world at large; let the hangin’ begin!

                  THAT is why I oppose the internet-lynch-mob-mentality. THAT is why I make the arguments I’ve made here (the ones I’ve actually made, not the ones people are just assuming I’m making). I think the uglier we get in defense of goodness, the uglier the bad gets, and it all just becomes ugliness. I think it breeds hatred and intolerance. I think it diminishes us all. I think it encourages people to “other” each other. I think it makes the world a worse place.

                  But I think meeting even ugliness with kindness (when possible, and of course depending on the situation) at least means there’s still kindness in the world, it means we can still at least feel proud of being better people. Sometimes it helps the confused see the light. Sometimes it helps the thoughtless realize they need to start thinking. Sometimes it even means the people to whom we have extended kindness rethink their hateful positions or views. I have seen this happen. More than once.

                  I am not suggesting that we remain silent when we see someone calling for the murder of gay people or people of color or, well, anyone. What I said was that maybe not every nasty little comment made by some nobody in another state needs to be highlighted on Buzzfeed, ffs, and that IMO sometimes the best thing to do with offensive comments is ignore them. As I said above, I say this not to defend those people but because I think internet hate mobs are detrimental to society in general, and they do no one any good. But I also say this because I found my own mental health improved when I stopped focusing on the jerks of the world and started looking for the good (which doesn’t mean I never see them, it just means I stopped willingly giving them my energy). It’s easy to feel like the world is against you when you spend your time actively seeking out and giving headspace to people who are against you. Once you step back you realize that they’re actually more of a minority than you think. Most people, whatever dumb comment they might make, are decent, and many if not most of the racist etc. comments I’ve seen called out online have been made by people who did not/do not know any better. That doesn’t make their comments any less offensive or wrong-headed, but it does–again, IME–mean that a polite comment will do more good than a stream of vitriol.

                  Re your point #2, I believe we’re actually discussing two different things. But as far as “I don’t want to be around a person who has made it clear they don’t respect $group” is not the same thing as punishing every single person who has ever said anything even slightly unorthodox on the internet, and honestly, I think you know it.” Of course I know it. I never said anything different.

                  #3. “Frankly, I think it’s really intellectually dishonest to argue that anybody who is okay with there being social consequences to being awful, even online, is like two steps away from being down with lynch mobs, doxxers, and state-sponsored reeducation camps. I mean — what?? What on earth???” What on earth, indeed? Since that’s not what I said–it is what others seem to be claiming I said, despite my repeated clarifications and refutations, but it is not what I said–I won’t argue with that. I will say again, though, that we are talking about two different things. I frankly don’t have the heart or the time to attempt yet again to repeat myself; you can look at my other comments on the subject, or take my word for it, or ignore this paragraph entirely and continue to believe what you want to believe.

                  “Look, you’re the one riding to the defense of people who have experienced consequences for being unrepentantly terrible people; perhaps unsurprisingly, you’re getting a whooooole bunch of pushback for acting like firing someone for being a jerk is the equivalent of driving female games reporters off the internet.”

                  1. No, I am not.
                  2. No, I am not remotely acting like, or claiming that, those things are even remotely equivalent. I have (once again, sigh) said *repeatedly,* over and over and over again, that if I was the boss of the guy in OP’s letter I very well might have fired him, too, that I think what he said was disgusting, that I think his saying that tells us he’s very likely disgusting himself, and that of course employers have the right to fire people for saying things like that, especially when they say it while identifying themselves as employees of that company. Of course businesses have the right to do that and of course they will if need be, and I do not disagree with it.

                  But this “whoooooole lot of pushback” is a pretty good example in itself of why I disagree with internet hate mobs etc. so much, right here. I never once said I thought the guy didn’t deserve to be fired, but here I am being yelled at by multiple people, all of whom refuse outright to actually read or engage with anything I say because they’re far too interested in insulting, belittling, and dismissing me and ascribing to me motives, statements, and beliefs I never made. Much if not all of it could have been avoided if even one person had attempted to clarify before going off, or had assumed good will/good intentions and kept an open mind, but no one could be bothered to do that.

                  So here we are. Me, who feels nothing but support for and good will toward you, a fellow female, a fellow professional writer; and you, who believes, for whatever reason and however incorrectly, that I think it’s cool to insult, degrade, and threaten you and that you and your views don’t matter. Whatever it is that I personally said that made you think that’s the case, I certainly and sincerely apologize for it, but I hope you will at least permit me to say that none of my comments (in this thread or any other, ever) stated or even implied that I think any of that is cool or that I bear any ill will toward people of color or lesbians–I’ve been saying the exact opposite for some time, over and over again, in the face of people who are convinced that “leans conservative” automatically means “racist homophobe” and refuse to even consider the possibility that their stereotype is incorrect, so I hope you will forgive my confusion on that issue.

                  And last but not least, I hope you have a lovely night, an excellent Friday, and a glorious weekend.

                3. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                  “it seems there is a whole world of unintended subtext in my posts”

                  Well, you COULD try to stop and consider just what it is about your posts that’s creating that unintended subtext.

                4. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*


                  “It’s saying that in my experience, those who want to restrict free speech are the ones who enjoy talking about “consequences,” and those who join in internet hate mobs have, in my experience, been the same ones who then airily dismiss telling strangers on the internet to kill themselves by saying, “Well, speech has consequences.””

                  I’ve figured out Anion’s problem- she lives in Opposite Land!

                5. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                  Just curious, did you get shouted down by an internet mob for expressing “disagreeable” (abhorrent) views, or just because you kept insisting that those who express “disagreeable” (abhorrent) views shouldn’t be shunned or fired or have any consequences at all?

                6. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                  How did I miss this the first time around?

                  We have a “tone argument” and a “[marginilized peoples] are just looking for thing to get angry about” argument.

                  Hoooo boy.

            4. Specialk9*

              I’m not sure if you’re purposely creating a fallacious crossover here? You’re basically saying “If you believe that free speech can and should have consequences you support mob justice, lynchings, and doxxing.” Because whoa Nelly!

              It doesn’t feel like an honest argument, it feels like you’re trying to turn your critics into a strawman.

            5. Plague of frogs*

              OK, people should be more courteous on the internet. But what does that have to do with free speech? (Hint: nothing).

            6. Not So NewReader*

              “What’s okay to say today may be offensive tomorrow; what’s offensive today may be acceptable tomorrow, and who is the judge of that? ”

              Social mores. Social codes. I have seen so many things become classified as offensive just in my 50 plus years. And I will tell you this the fact that society has woken up to these things as being offensive is a GOOD thing. It was long over due in my opinion. For all the crap going on out there there are many things that are much, much better than it was 20, 30, 40 years ago. Society is not stagnant; it evolves.
              Entire books are written on the subject of who is the judge, the decider. From what I have seen we collectively face one high profile situation or set of situations and the whole country just says, “Enough. We have to change what we are doing.”
              Other random thoughts:
              The freedom to say whatever we want online has never existed. As long as there has been internet people have suffered fallout for their misdeeds online.

              A company is not an internet mob attacking a person. Firing someone is an adult response to poor behavior. An internet mob attacking people is the furthest thing from adult behavior. Interestingly, I wondered if fired employee was a leader of this type of internet mob. It sounds like he wrote in an angry manner that would be used when one wanted to get others upset.

              Can you link to an article on the re-education that you are talking about? (sincere request)

              1. Anion*


                The article refers to it as “Cultural Competency Training,” but I swear–not in a hyperbolic way, but in a genuine “I know it said this” way–that when this controversy happened, it was referred to as “Re-Education.” (Possibly “Cultural Re-education,” but I remember it because my husband and I were both so bowled over by the idea of being sent for “re-education.”) I’ll see if I can find the article that specifically used that phrase, but it was almost six months ago.

                And I really wish I could understand why people think I disagree with this guy being fired and keep telling me why it was okay and allowed for the company to do so, since I have not only never once said I disagree but did in fact say I understand and agree that I wouldn’t want to work with him, either.

                1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                  Well, there’s a comment on the article from some idiot who calls it “re-education”, but that’s not quite the same thing.

                  Also, how is one company offering to pay for another company to voluntarily attend a seminar that teaches them that [marginalized people]?are also humans who deserve to be treated with respect even REMOTELY resemble ‘literally being sent for “re-education”’?

                  Do you have an issue with people being invited to learn to treat others with respect? Because if you don’t, I can’t see how you could possibly view a chance for people to increase their sensitivity towards others as a BAD thing.

            7. Forrest*

              Sorry, not sorry but I’m not going to be told that I’m anti-free speech just because I don’t see anything wrong with a company firing a terrible person for saying terrible things or his neighbors not wanting him around.

              I don’t eat at Chick-Fil-A because of their anti-gay activities. Guess I’m anti-free speech and the only way to prove I’m not is to start buying waffle fries.

              It’s ridiculous to say that people who believe free speech come with consequences are actually anti-free speech. Mostly because these “true believers” of free speech can’t seem to state how we get rid of these consequences without trampling on others people’s rights. I can sit here and say the sky should be green but that’s not going to automatically make it green. Likewise, you’re never going to be able to control how people respond to you. There is no way to get rid of free speech consequences. You can either avoid them by watching what you say or look it in the eye and say “yes, this is worth risking a negative consequence.”

              Advances in civil rights happened because those people knew there would be consequences. That’s what they were aiming for. They wanted positive ones but they knew negative ones would happen and in many regards they wanted them to happen to raise awareness. You’re basically advocating that you should be able to have your cake and eat it to. If you want to use the power of free speech, you better use it for something worthwhile.

        6. Jesmlet*

          Keeping that subtlety in mind, yes, Free Speech should protect one from severe consequences like getting fired.

          No no no no no. What subtlety? No. Nothing restricts your speech, but a company’s right to associate with who they want to associate with in order to protect their reputation and business should not be trampled on by what sewage someone chooses to spew from their face hole. Freedom of speech only applies to legal consequences, not social or vocational. If someone at my company decided to publicly say offensive things in their non-work time and it became big enough to be covered by the news, it could absolutely have an affect on business and that’s not a burden we should be forced to shoulder.

          1. First Amendment Lawyer*

            “Nothing restricts your speech, but a company’s right to associate with who they want to associate with in order to protect their reputation and business should not be trampled on by what sewage someone chooses to spew from their face hole. If someone at my company decided to publicly say offensive things in their non-work time and it became big enough to be covered by the news, it could absolutely have an affect on business and that’s not a burden we should be forced to shoulder.”

            That’s your opinion. Fortunately, some state legislatures disagree with you.

            I’d also be keenly interested in who decides what’s “offensive.” If I work at Hobby Lobby and am in favor of gay marriage and say as much, is that a fireable offense in your book?

            If so, as a practical matter, how are ordinary people ever supposed to feel comfortable exercising free speech? Do you say that free speech is only for people of means, who don’t have to work for a living?

            1. neverjauntyorni*

              “Comfortable”? So you’re an advocate of the Preferred First Speaker doctrine? Or you just mean that it’s not OK to exercise your free speech right to tell a jerk “wow, what an awful thing to say” because the jerk might then feel uncomfortable?

            2. Forrest*

              I have to work for a living and I free comfortable exercising my freedom of speech. Granted, I work for a place that aligns with my beliefs.

              But that’s not always the case. And that’s when you have to put on your grow up pants and decide what’s more important. It will never be a law that a company can’t fire you for anything you say. We can hope and dream but it ain’t happening.

              So is vocalizing that you support gay marriage more important than your job? Is a racist rant more important than your job?

              Again, we can sit here and pretend we live in some ideal world. But we don’t. So basically this is an unending conversation because there will never be a solution. You just got to work with what you have. In many cases it will suck – I don’t like the idea that supporting civil rights can cost someone a job. And in many ways it doesn’t suck – I like companies who recognize having racists around isn’t a good idea.

              It’s not a perfect world but it’s the one we got.

              1. Conclusions, jumping to*

                “It will never be a law that a company can’t fire you for anything you say. ”

                According to the ABA, it is in fact a law in five states, with looser protections in several others.

                1. Forrest*

                  The ABA protections some things you may say. There is no law that says you can say racist things and your employer can’t fire you.

                  So no, there will never be a law that a company can’t fire you for anything you say.

        7. Forrest*

          So if you were black and your manager was saying racist things, you’d be ok with that and not tell HR or anyone else about it because, hey, free speech.

        8. Elizabeth West*

          We live in a place where employment is at-will. An employer can fire you if they feel like your public posts are going to make them look bad (i.e. it’s obvious you work there, and any reasonable person would think they tolerate your point of view by continuing your employment), which could hurt their livelihood by costing them customers. It’s a business decision they’re free to make.

          Yes, they absolutely can fire you for being an a-hole. Why should the rest of us have to put up with that? How many letters do you see here where people write in and say their coworkers are being utter a-holes and management never does anything and it makes the workplace completely toxic? If you’re not a regular reader, just know it’s a lot.

          You seem to be advocating that we can all be a-holes to each other whenever we like, and any kind of personal restraint should just fly out the window. Why don’t you try that and come back and tell us how it works out for you.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            … sez one of the nicest people on this forum.
            You do live what you believe, EW. We can see it. Thanks for being a nice person.

          2. Candi*

            My ex-in-laws were very high on the all glassbowls all the time scale. (Except the youngest son. He was a sweetheart.) It is a very tiring and sickening environment.

            Would it surprise you that they were bigots as well?

            In my observations, a very high percentage of those yelping about “free speech” as a reason to continue to say whatever nasty things they say are also very much in love with prejudice, bigotry, and some or all of their children. High Venn overlap.

            And that slop needs to be tossed out. It’s poisonous.

        9. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

          “Personally, I think we need to move to more of a Free Speech model, where anyone can say what they like, regardless of how many people are triggered”

          So how will you feel when the person getting “triggered”* is YOU?
          Or your children, parents, spouse, siblings, best friend or whoever it is in your life that you deeply care about?

          *nice misuse & minimizing of the word, by the way

      3. LIz*

        I live in New England, and my town had a similar issue with a municipal employee who attached a giant Confederate flag to his truck. It actually was a First Amendment issue because he worked for the government. However, he worked in the same building as Parks and Rec and the Building Inspector. A nonwhite person who was denied a building permit or a park permit might see the flag and conclude they were denied because of their race. I don’t remember how it was resolved.

    2. Isben Takes Tea*

      Right. It also works in the reverse: it’s perfectly reasonable to decide you don’t want to associate with someone who behaves unpleasantly, even if it’s only at work or with their coworkers or subordinates. (Example AAM letter link to follow.)

        1. Penny Lane*

          The AAM letter about the co-worker who used a racial slur at the boss’ house and now the boss’ wife is frosty to her is a good example. In that comment section, commenters were pretty unified that the natural consequence of saying a not-nice thing was that people might be icily polite to you, instead of warm and friendly.

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      Yep. This isn’t a free speech issue. And you say he was only fired because the company didn’t want to look bad in the press or with the public. That’s not really in ‘only’ territory to me. Most companies won’t want to look bad, because reputation matters – and if I was a client or customer of your business, I’d be looking to see how you handled this.

      Your employer has every right to decide that this isn’t the kind of person they want to employ, or to have around their other employees (some of whom will likely be victims of crime, or be close to people who are).

      I think your friend sounds like he’s really distanced himself psychologically from the reality of what this person did – that doesn’t mean the people around him are also expected to do that. And if he’s posting something so ill-considered, it speaks to his judgement and his values which reflect heavily on a person.

      1. Gaia*

        Exactly this. There are four companies I no longer do any business with because of how they handles situations where an employee of theirs did something really terribly very publicly outside of work and their response was basically “meh, not our problem.”

        1. Lady Phoenix*

          I have boycotted at least 3 makeup companies. Jeffery * because he said some terrible things about black women.

          1. Ossielot*

            I have boycotted as well because of racist depictions of American Indians and First Nations peoples.

            The internet puts things on my radar.

        2. Candi*

          There was one store I refused to go in ever again because the only time I was in there the employees were awful. Not protected class issues, just generally awful.

          Last I walked past their storefront, they were closed. Internet says they’re no longer in busienss at all. No one would even buy out the name, apparently.

          Not dealing with awful employees can kill a business, or at least ruin their reputation in a town. There’s a reason MartWal was never allowed to build a store within my city’s limits, and it likely had a lot to do with they asked for the permits at a time when a lot of stories were breaking about just how badly they treated their employees.

          (The rumor mill also said they asked for a lot of exceptions to city ordinances that other big names were fine with following. Little things like not wanting surprise health inspections, according to the grapevine. Probably just a stupid company rep.)

      2. Jen S. 2.0*

        And simply, in most states you can be fired without cause, or for any reason. It doesn’t have to be a good one. As long as it’s not for being in a protected class, it doesn’t matter what the reason is. So, “inflammatory social media posts in your free time” falls in that category.

        Not for nothing, I post very carefully and seldom on social media for this reason. You can’t control who sees it or how they will react. That funny meme doesn’t only go to the 10 or 15 of your friends who really will get it and find it funny. Thanking your boyfriend for the flowers (and humble-bragging about your great guy) doesn’t only go to your boyfriend and single female friends. If you care who sees it, send it to them, not the world.

        1. Grant Us Eyes*

          I’m confused about single female friends… Is that different from married female friends seeing it?

          1. Shop Girl*

            I am also confused why thanking you BF for the flowers is humble bragging. I thank my wife publicly (to my coworkers or on Facebook) for the nice things she does. How is that humble bragging. It actually makes me look bad as in you mean you can’t clean the snow off your own car.

            1. Triplestep*

              I’m confused why any post would have to be seen by “the world”. There are privacy controls on Facebook.

              1. Kindling*

                Like in the instance in this letter, people can screenshot your Facebook posts and distribute them more widely than you intended. But that’s rare enough that it’s not something I’d really spend much time worrying about above and beyond worrying how your social circle might view a particular post.

              2. Candi*

                1) Facebook is notorious for their controls randomly resetting.

                There’s a FOAF on FB that blocked me several years ago when I mentioned something to the mutual friend in live chat the FOAF had said a couple weeks previously when the friend wasn’t present in chat. To me (and the friend) it sounded perfectly innocent to mention when the topic came up organically, but FOAF had a HUGE hissy fit over never did figure out what exactly and blocked me. (Bonus: In the interim, the FOAF had mentioned the thing *publicly* in a post. So, really don’t get it.)

                Well, now I can see FOAF’s posts again when our mutual friend is involved. I’m just very quietly sitting over here and not. saying. anything. (I cut way back on FB due to data cap issues, and don’t really intend to start up again even with a new contract.)

                2) Anything you post can be shared unless you take specific steps, and deleting your original post doesn’t necessarily nuke the shared posts. Nevermind copy and paste or screenshots.

                3) FB isn’t the only platform out there, it’s just the most notorious and the easiest to link to real people due to the “everyone must use their real birth/married names (as long as they are suitably Westernized)” stance. Others require more effort to connect them to real life. But it can be done.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              With some people and on rare occasion, it is a form of grandstanding. “See what a wonderful spouse I am, I sent my wife three truckloads of roses at her work.” (Exaggeration for emphasis.)
              I have seen this one. A few years later they were divorced.

          2. Jesca*

            LOL I think she is referring to those friends who post stuff about their boyfriend to make their single friends jealous. Whether or not this is why people do it, though, I am not sure?

            1. Anion*

              It has never once occurred to me to publicly thank my husband for something just so I can make people jealous.

              I always think it’s sweet when people do things like that, though, and am happy for my friends/think their husbands or boyfriends are great, too.

              1. Turquoisecow*

                Yeah, I’ve posted a few times about how awesome my husband is – taking care of me when I’m sick, buying me gifts, doing things around the house, etc. and my goal is not to make people jealous. My goal is to share my happiness with the world, and maybe to assure friends and family that I am happy in my relationship.

                1. tangerineRose*

                  I’m single, and I think these posts are sweet. Makes me feel good to hear about people doing nice things for each other.

              2. Koko*

                Yeah, I think it’s really sad that so many people are so suspicious of other people’s happiness that they would impute nefarious motives for something as positive as a thank-you.

                Like, when a manager in my department sends an email to the whole department congratulating their reports and calling attention to a recent exceptional effort they made, I don’t think, “That manager just wants to make all the other teams in our department jealous!”

                Public thanks are a way of honoring the effort of the person you’re thanking.

            2. neverjaunty*

              1) most people who post about being happy are not being happy AT you.

              2) if someone you know is the sort of person who deliberately tries to make others feel jealous, why on earth are you friends with them in the first place?

              1. Jesca*

                Listen, I’m not personally taking a stance on this. I have no idea and nor do I really spend all that much thought on why someone posts about their husband. It is just not interesting to me. I was just trying to clarify the question someone had. So I wasn’t answering the question AT you, I was just … answering a question.

                1. Kate 2*

                  Well, in this case rather than posting for a few hundred Facebook friends to see, in the husband example, you are posting about a specific situation Jen S 2.0 came up with, so in a way you are posting *at* somebody.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        I recall this from a libertarian west coast hot dog stand and Charlottesville–you make headlines as “that white supremacist from our local business” and you can get fired. Even if you crossed the nation before hefting your sign.

      4. Samiratou*

        I would also say that this particular situation lays out several areas of…questionable judgment by the employee that, if I were his boss, would have me questioning whether he really has the judgment to do his job well.

        As in, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was already on shaky ground for other things, totally unrelated to this situation.

      5. myswtghst*

        All of this. The coworker used poor judgement and posted something inflammatory in a (relatively) public forum, and now is facing pretty unsurprising consequences for their actions.

        OP #1 says “Can people really get fired for what they do in their personal lives if it doesn’t hurt anyone […]?” but doesn’t seem to be considering that what the coworker said did hurt someone, and in fact, may have hurt a lot of people. It’s entirely possible that people who work at or with their employer are victims of crime (or victims’ rights advocates), which seems like reason enough to determine this is someone they no longer wish to employ.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      It is an issue that requires some thought in general, though, from an ethical point of view.

      I mean, you can legally fire someone for supporting a different political candidate than you do, or for being involved in a particular area of activism, or because they cheated on their spouse, or are involved in the local kink scene, or are a racist Twitter troll, or smoke marijuana on the weekend, or were accused (but not convicted) of a crime, or are polyamorous.

      Whether you should, ethically, is a different question. It shouldn’t be open season to fire anybody who you disagree with or find repugnant. On the other hand, there are situations where it *is* appropriate to fire someone – a racist twitter troll and vocal white supremacist is not someone you want to inflict on your non-white employees, for example. So there’s definitely a line drawn in there somewhere.

      1. Hey Nonnie*

        I think the metric for ethical considerations is how respectful and compassionate the behavior in question was, or wasn’t. I can say that I wish [political party] would stop causing [specific harm] to [specific group of people] while maintaining a respectful tone. Calling a person or group names or otherwise disparaging them is not respectful; and I’d argue that disrespectful behavior in one sphere is a strong indicator of potential disrespectful behavior in other spheres as well, including at work. It’s like the waiter test: someone who is unkind to those he sees as “beneath him” is not a kind person period.

        So while I wouldn’t fire someone for being “against gay marriage” — that’s fine, they can choose to marry whomever they want — if they chose to manifest this belief by harassing coworkers or customers, that’s definitely a fireable offence.

        Calling someone “scum” for having been a victim of a crime is hella disrespectful.

        1. Jesca*

          I am genuinely curious to know how you feel about the reverse. For instance, you have posted about the principle of “punching down” as being a fireable offense? What about punching up? What if you are part of a disenfranchised group and state that everyone that is not like you deserves to be killed most violently or are scum? So my question is, would “punching up” count? Is that considered “respectful and compassionate”? Or would that be an exception? I am not trying to be an ass here (so please don’t think I am), I am just genuinely curious how you see those situations?

          1. Oranges*

            I am not the person who you directed this towards but I want to answer it anyways.

            I think the bar gets moved higher when people are “punching up” for me. Because they have to deal with that crap in their lives and it is a stresser and humans aren’t good at being constantly stressed. Also they have justifiable frustration at the systematic oppression.

            However there still is a bar. So a white person saying “all ethnic-slurs need to be rounded up and put on an island” would be a hell-nah. If a PoC said it about white people… I would assume that they’ve had it up to here with the BS they go through and needed to vent. Now, if there was a pattern then I’m just gonna not be around you any longer.

            1. Kate 2*

              I mean, being “punched up” at doesn’t make me feel any better or safer. I would be equally horrified in those two examples. Just as I would be horrified if a fellow female said all men should be rounded up and put in camps.

              Talking about treating other human beings like dirt, like they are subhuman, to other people is the source of the problem.

              I’ve privately imagined getting light revenge on a specific person or two in my life, but saying it out loud about a group of innocent strangers who haven’t done anything to *you*, that really crosses a line. That’s how these things start, someone has to come up with the idea, start “joking” about it, then it starts becoming less of a joke, and so on.

              I’m not necessarily talking about another Holocaust either. Gang violence, or the Rodney King riots, for instance. An innocent man was nearly beaten to death, and to this day suffers from what was done to him. Just because the people beating him didn’t see a person at all.

              1. Oranges*

                Which is fine! My bar for violent/dark language is rather low because I love dark humor and I find humanity’s responses to death fascinating. This means that I’m desensitized though and I try to keep the fact that my bar is low in mind.

                I’m curious if your personal bar of “that’s offensive” moves when the person speaking is punching up?

                Side note: I don’t want to make others uncomfortable. Just like I wouldn’t smoke around someone trying to quit smoking/preggers/asthmatic. So I indulge my dark humor when I’m around others with similar tastes.

                1. Oranges*

                  I was imagining a group of friends chatting. Not saying that at random people which to me changes the context also. Like yes I have joked that all super-rich people should be put on an island (or dropped in a volcano) but that’s the way I joke. I don’t think that scrubbing all violence out of the language is the answer.

                  Personally I think it crosses the line when you compare humans to animals. To my understanding, all of the speech that signifies violence will happen to the oppressed group starts by saying they are animal.

              2. Genevieve*

                Here’s the problem with seeing them as equal and being “equally horrified” though—white Americans have actually factually rounded up minorities and put them in camps (or murdered them), but POC haven’t.

                1. Only here for the teapots*

                  Racial/sexual/religious minorities, just to clarify. And women. And poor people. And people with physical/mental disabilities. It’s no wonder so many people get angry when someone tries to justify or normalize hate speech.

              3. Candi*

                Ahhhh… I was in junior high when that happened, and we went over it in history class.

                It was more of a “no heroes here” situation.

                King had led the police on a car chase, than fought them after exiting the car. They’d caught up with him about the time the camera holder began filming.

                They seriously overdid it, bad and spotting training as well terrible choices in the moment. King should never have been injured that badly.

                He was not innocent, though.

                1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                  Kate 2 may be talking about Reginald Denny, a white truck driver who was pulled from his truck and beaten nearly to death by rioters, and has suffered permanent injury from the attacks.

        2. Allison*

          Right, and I am trying to figure out how he could have vented his frustration more eloquently and respectfully. My guess is the victim’s family might be against the wedding and that’s making him angry, and honestly that’s probably not something you vent about on social media in general, but calling them “victim’s rights scum” is unjustifiably cruel.

          1. FD*

            Frankly, I’m not sure that short form social media is the appropriate place for that. That sort of format works best where you have a short, easy-to-digest message that doesn’t require a lot of explanation.

            In a case like this, where you’re potentially saying something that’s going to be controversial, it may be in your best interest to switch to a longer form (e.g. YouTube video, blog post, etc).

            I think the reaction the person would have gotten would be different if they had, for example, made a longer post about how people often forget that criminals do have legal rights (and why that’s important to society) and how people often want to continue taking out their frustrations on prisoners over and above the sentence they’ve received. People might still have disagreed–maybe even strongly disagreed–but I doubt there would have been the same outcry.

            That doesn’t mean that you can’t be angry at people, but if you’re going to be angry at people who have been harmed by someone you love, it’s probably more appropriate to express that in private.

          2. Q*

            I suspect the victim’s family had no say in that whatsoever and the coworker was angry on behalf the rights denied their partner because the family managed to get a persecution in this case. Someone who has gone far enough down the rabbit hole to find a term like “victim’s rights scum” is more than just venting frustration about their wedding.

            To be honest, I’m definitely biased, as I’m “victim’s family” in this scenario (though fortunately none of this wedding and scum talk has been leveled in our direction).

            1. Candi*

              I swear I’m not trying to nitpick. But from context, I assume you meant “prosecution” and not “persecution”? Since the two words have such different meanings and all, I want to make sure I understand. :)

        3. JM60*

          I think the metric for ethical considerations is how respectful and compassionate the behavior in question was, or wasn’t.
          So while I wouldn’t fire someone for being “against gay marriage” — that’s fine, they can choose to marry whomever they want — if they chose to manifest this belief by harassing coworkers or customers, that’s definitely a fireable offence.

          Being against the rights of same sex couples to marry (while being in favor of those rights for opposite sex couples) is, in itself , extremely disrespectful and uncompassionate towards queer people. If I were running my own business, I would be ethically justified in firing someone for that reason alone. I shouldn’t have to continually employ someone who believes something so personally insulting about me, such as that my relationship with my boyfriend.

          1. JM60*

            … “is intrinsically disordered.”

            I didn’t complete that last sentence before posting. It’s also noteworthy in this context that it’s especially insulting to be against the rights of same sex couples to marry when a convicted murderer can legally marry someone of the opposite sex.

          2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

            Exactly. All I could hear in that would be the underlying prejudice: “I don’t believe gays should have the right to get married be considered human beings like me.”

            Fuck that. That person would be fired so fast, the door wouldn’t have *time* to hit them in the ass on the way out.

    5. Jules*

      All of this!
      A couples of rule for interneting:
      1. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences.
      2. If you post something on the internet it may very well end up on the news.
      3. If it ends up in the news for being inflammtory or extremely unpleasant there’s a very good chance you might lose your job.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          ugh. Too few words, that sounded snippy. I meant that most people know that many companies pay attention to what their employees are doing on line. Perhaps this employee even receive notice in writing from her company about the company policy regarding an employee’s online life.

    6. Wintermute*

      That’s true but there is a well-entrenched principle that what you do off the clock is not valid grounds for work discipline in general. I for one am unconvinced that “well social media means you’re always a brand ambassador so you can’t ever say or do anything controversial”.

      Because face it, well-intentioned people always use sophistry to argue why “well no this situation is REALLY AWFUL it’s a good exception to make” but norms protect people and at the end of the day power is wielded for benefit of the powerful not for the benefit of the disenfranchised.

      So sure today we’re saying that yeah no one should have their politics off the clock used to fire them. Unless they’re strongly conservative and you can paint them as “alt-right”, then it’s fair game many people have started to argue. But what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, that norm WILL be turned around on you sooner or later to apply to you too.

      People get to be “off the clock” sometimes, and eroding that norm is dangerous, supremely dangerous, because it is risking the most dangerous kind of censorship at all: self-censorship, where people have to think of what their employer would think of any action before they take it in case it becomes publicly known.

      There is also legal issues in play here– you could make a cogent enough argument that firing someone for their spouse’s legal status (which you can paint this as) is family status discrimination. It may not fool a jury but it may sneak past a motion to dismiss and tie you up in court.

      1. Tuxedo Cat*

        I don’t see how this has much to do with his spouse’s legal status. He wasn’t fired because his soon-to-be-wife is in jail for life. He was fired for making a post that attacked the victim’s family members.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Yeah, I agree. Even if someone tried to make this a family status argument, I don’t think it would get past a motion to dismiss unless the other side has ineffective lawyers.

        2. Wintermute*

          I’m not saying that it is about his spouse’s status– only that a CLAIM that it was may pass the summary dismissal stage and actually result in a suit.

            1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

              Oddly enough, to some people it really does. Avoiding ridicule or social censure > doing the right thing.

              See the similar attitude: You won’t ever change things why even bother.

              Because *obviously* our society has been exactly the same since the Stone Age, no efforts to enact sweeping social changes for the betterment of society have *ever* worked, and if you can’t make it perfect overnight, it’s not worth even trying at all.

              What is even the point of these negative, pessimistic blanket statements that dismiss all efforts to better lives & society as useless, and therefore worthless?

          1. Tuxedo Cat*

            That still doesn’t make sense to be concerned, because people can claim whatever in a lawsuit. Sometimes they make it court , sometimes they don’t.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I hear you, Wintermute. I’m saying that I don’t think this would pass the dismissal stage.

            But as others have noted, there’s no way to really stop people from filing non-meritorious lawsuits. The only check on that is whether you can find a lawyer to take your case (and unfortunately for the profession, I think there’s almost always someone who is not particularly scrupulous who will take your case if you pay a flat fee up front).

            1. Candi*

              I remember back in the 1990s, before they started putting some brakes on the “you’re suing why/for what/for HOW MUCH?”, the magazine articles and books on not only shady lawyers taking low-chance cases for hourly fees, but people using free filing to file all sorts of frivolous nonsense in the hopes of some kind of payday -including trying for the “pay to go away” check.

              The book described free filing as a way to level the playing field for low-income people. Apparently a lot of clerks at the time in some areas didn’t check for proof of income. Apparently one woman filed 89 frivolus lawsuits, via the free system, in less than a year, to the point to where a motion was brought and the judge ordered her to either pay the fee submit proof of a mental health evaluation. (No idea how legal that second part was.) All the suits got tossed in about five sconds.

        3. Jen S. 2.0*

          Right. He wasn’t fired for a social media post. He was fired for displaying values and thought processes so in conflict with the company’s that they no longer wanted to employ him. The fact that he did it on social media is for me a red herring. If he’d said the same line in his interview or performance review, or in a speech that ended up on the local news, the result would have been the same.

          1. Grant Us Eyes*

            The thing about social media is it’s not analogous to a chat with friends in the pub… It’s closer to a letter published in a newspaper with film identifying information. Social media is MEDIA, not conversation.

            1. SignalLost*

              So? If I’m dumb enough to assume none of my views are controversial and post them on social media, then I’m an idiot. It doesn’t matter if I assume social media is a chat with friends and my employer assumes it’s a written record of my thoughts. It takes a really dedicated troll to post things they don’t believe in or agree with, and I would argue that makes social media a more valid tool for determining what someone believes, BECAUSE it’s not a conversation. It’s just a series of statements that maybe reaches a dialogue.

            2. Lady Phoenix*

              Yeah. A better representation of a chat in a pub would be… well… a chat room/instant messaging system

            3. krysb*

              And even here in the U.S., there is legal precedent where talking negatively about your employer in a public place, such as a bar, is grounds for firing.

              1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                That’s ridiculous. That’s giving a company more rights than an individual. What makes them think they have the right to avoid public criticism?

            4. LCL*

              I’m asking this question as someone who doesn’t social media at all and is honestly seeking information. Do you believe that your opinion is the majority view of people that use social media? Because I had believed up until now that social media was called media because that was the most descriptive word, and followed the computer world convention of naming things so they sound much more active or important than they really are. Do people seriously believe that media is equivalent, that there is no difference between facebook and a newspaper or NPR?

              1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                No, people don’t believe there’s no difference. They believe these things belong in the same category because they operate similarly. Writing a post on Facebook is similar in scope and audience to writing a letter to the editor of a newspaper. Sure, plenty of people won’t see it — but plenty of people will, and once you send it, you have very little control and who those people will be.

              2. Samiratou*

                What “difference” do you have in mind? In the sense that words posted there are public, yes, Facebook is similar to a newspaper, but if we’re talking journalistic standards then no (obviously).

                The point above is not that FB is a journalistic entity, but that it’s a public website, and if you post something there, it’s similar to posting a letter to the editor in the newspaper or something where it can be seen by anyone who cares to look, and there can be consequences for that.

                1. Oranges*

                  I had never thought about that before since FB is all “Look, your friends” but it IS posting things to a public website. Just like I’m doing right now.

                2. LCL*

                  To me the huge difference is the vetting by editors. If it’s not edited, it’s not any kind of broadcast media. No matter how big the audience.

                3. Candi*

                  “Broadcast” media has its own, reasonably specific, definition.

                  And I think sites such as Alison’s count as “large audience” platforms.

                4. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                  Yeah, I don’t see it as any more ‘media’ than a big fancy souped up message board.

                  If anyone has it mixed up what it’s supposed to be, it’s Zuckerburg. In his arrogance and greed, he’s turned what could and SHOULD have have been a groundbreaking tool for interpersonal communication, building community, sharing friend, family, work, hobby, & group networks, art/journaling/photography/writing and SO MUCH MORE, instead it’s a monetized clusterfuck of moronic algorithms that enabled foreign interference in our presidential election and *look what we have now*

              3. Only here for the teapots*

                Read the dictionary definitions of media. The term encompasses much more than large-audience journalism.

          2. Allison*

            Not to mention, he demonstrated seriously lack of judgment and maturity. If I saw someone posting stuff like that on their social media, I’d worry about how they’d act at work, especially if they were having a bad day and frustrated with someone.

        4. Ossielot*

          Hey, I realize it’s likely a woman he’s marrying, but does the letter actually say that and I missed it or are we assuming?

          I’ve personally went tomuainf spouse or fiancée when I don’t know because I don’t want to assume heterosexual normativity.

          1. Casual Fribsday*

            “What happened was that he posted about his upcoming wedding to her on Facebook”

            I appreciate the sentiment regardless.

            1. Specialk9*

              So few people know the distinction between fiancee and fiance that I do not assume anything based on the number of e’s.

              1. Anna*

                Yep! Last weekend I was at an event that was adjacent to a bridal show and saw a woman wearing a t-shirt that had Girlfriend crossed out and said Fiance underneath. I know the difference, but most people don’t. Shrug.

        5. Jesca*

          I agree. I think in some instances, in my own experience, employers have been too light handed on NOT firing people for what they did outside of work.

          I once worked at this company where a guy had (some how) forced a 16 year old into a (non-legal) marriage through the guise of some cult religion he was the leader of (he was in mid thirties). She spent years trying to get away from him. He would find her and attack her. He once sprayed her in the face with pepper spray while she was stopped at a stop light in her car! Well he made front page news when he was caught by a home owner on the home owner’s property trying to find this girl. The guy held him at gun point because he knew the history. When the cops showed up, he was found in possession of all the tools needed to kidnap someone (duct take, face mask, hand cuff, so on and so forth). It too my company 5 days to fire this guy! And that was after everyone fighting them on choosing to keep him!!! I mean, really.

          1. Oranges*

            My soul just died a little. And this is why I want to go around whapping people with an empathy stick. Can someone please invent one?

          2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

            Yeah, that’s sickening.

            There is a huge problem when companies will readily fire someone for having innocuous pictures of drunken shenanigans on their FB, or because they petition to change the dress code, but hold on to abusers, stalkers, criminals, nazis, bird phobics who seriously injure people etc forever.

      2. Safetykats*

        I agree that someone shouldn’t be fired for being married to someone who is incarcerated. That’s actually not why this person was let go according to the OP; they were let go for publicly denigrating the victim’s family.

        And I’m not sure what you mean by “well-entrenched principle.” The idea that you can be let go for what you do on your personal time if it reflects poorly on the company is not new, and it’s well-established legally. It’s also often written into your employment contract and described in your employee manual or HR policies; these provisions are familiarly known as “morals clauses” and they are perfectly legal. In addition, in most states most people are legally at-will employees, meaning that you can literally be let go for any reason that’s not clearly prohibited by law. So no – there is no well-established principle about being able to do whatever you like when not at work; quite the opposite, in fact.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          All of this. So very much. And frankly, I’m actually pleasantly surprised the company went through with the termination. All too often it seems like companies are so damn worried about the possibility of a lawsuit that it leads them to inaction where a problem employee is concerned, which means that people who should be fired for one reason or another end up hanging around long past their expiration date. It’s frustrating. This company took swift and decisive action when these disgusting comments were brought to their attention, and I applaud them for it.

        2. Anne (with an "e")*

          So many people just do not understand this. No, the “government” cannot punish the OP’s coworker for his Facebook post. However, his employer certainly can. Fifty years ago if the coworker had written a letter to the newspaper instead of making a FB post, he would have faced the same consequences. This is not new.

        3. LCL*

          You are absolutely correct about it being well established legally that people can be fired for being jerks. But I see that as usually a bad thing, because it is one way that business abuses its power to subjugate workers.

          1. Stormfeather*

            Usually, maybe, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing in this case. It means that there’s not (assuming it IS in an at-will state) any leg to stand on if you try to argue that the company didn’t have the right to fire him.

            I’d further argue that they kind of have an obligation to fire him to protect their workers if nothing else: the guy went out publicly stating that, pretty much, he is against the concept of victims having rights (presumably not to be killed, raped, or whatever else the “stronger” want to do with them). What the heck does this mean for any other employees that end up in a position of vulnerability around this guy?

            1. Specialk9*

              I am giving the OP serious side-eye, frankly, for wanting to “advocate” for someone who viciously denigrated a victims family for believing victims should have rights. Saying that abhorrent behavior is, yeah, I mean, wrong, but being so mad at friends, family, neighbors, and employer says the OP is either very misguided or getting sucked in by misplaced loyalty. And that’s my most generous interpretation of the OP.

        4. Oranges*

          Heck, wanna talk about the Hayes(?) clauses of old Hollywood? This isn’t a new thing. It’s old hat it’s just that we’ve gotten it into our heads that free speech = good + free speech = speech without consequences. How?

      3. Mad Baggins*

        I think the manager could make the argument that work discipline (ie firing) was warranted because the employee showed extraordinarily bad judgement in broadcasting their offensive opinions (which, yes, posting on FB is to a certain degree), and their actions are driving away business. Sure this line of thinking could and has been used to persecute people and what is “offensive” socially fluctuates over time, but this is how we have decided to settle the issue of people being punished for who they are vs. what they choose to do.

        1. Bagpuss*

          Not to mention, his actions were so inflammatory that there were protests outside his apartment. If there were, or the manager thought there were likely to be, protests outside the office as well then for protection of the staff and customers, and to prevent damage to the business, management may have felt that it would be unworkable for him to continue there.

          1. LCL*

            That’s why bad people dox other people, to get protesters going to workplaces and residences and calling up companies and threatening people’s jobs.

            1. Anna*

              Doxxing is most often used as a form of harassment and intimidation. It really took off with Gamergate, which targeted women specifically. You don’t often see doxxing of Nazis by progressives, although it has happened. That doesn’t excuse doxxing, but I think it’s important to remember which groups tend to use it most frequently and those groups are usually the ones whose viewpoints you wouldn’t want associated with your business to start.

      4. Anion*

        YES. Freedom of speech is NOT just a law; it’s far more than that. It’s a principle.

        I find what this guy said abhorrent. I’m repulsed by it, and by him (but sadly not surprised; I’ve spent time reading forums for spouses/SOs/families of prisoners [research], and the things some of them say about the family members of their victims, and victims’ rights advocates in general. are truly disgusting). I have to say I don’t think I’d be thrilled to work with him, either.

        But I also don’t know why he said what he did or if that’s really how he feels or he was just blowing off steam or whatever, and more importantly, I don’t believe he deserves to lose his job because he said one disgusting thing or because he holds a disgusting belief. He’s not the one committing crimes here (that’s his fiancee). Having and/or expressing a gross opinion is *not a crime.* The principle of free speech is supposed to be extended to–it is specifically FOR–speech that is offensive or that we do not like, and the principle of free speech is supposed to be something that guides us as a society, not just something that binds our government. Remember, the First A does not *GRANT* free speech, the First A *CONFIRMS* that free speech is a natural, inalienable human right that all people have.

        1. paul*

          How do you square that with the freedom of association then?

          i.e forcing his employers and coworkers to associate with him?

            1. Wintermute*

              what use is a right you can’t use? You’re saying that “well sure he can express an opinion but he can be fired for it” which means that the ability to actually USE your free speech freely you have to be financially independent, or else you are restricted to expressing only family-friendly corporate-approved sentiments.

              Sorry, but the idea that your employer has any right to punish you for what you do off the clock brings out the full red-flag-waving communist in me, because so many people ardently defend the system of wage indenturement when they see it result in a bad person getting their just deserts not realizing it’s still feeding the system of oppression.

              1. Ramona Flowers*

                You are misunderstanding what free speech is. It is to do with being punished by the government, not your employer.

                1. Ossielot*

                  Also, rights aren’t excercised in a vacuum. He’s harming people when he speaks.

                  The government calculates that harm when deciding to act. Hence, free speech allows the government to act when you say “I’m going to kill you” but not when you say “I’d be happy if you died.” The calculus for private citizens and entities is very different.

              2. Detective Amy Santiago*

                If what you do off the clock has a negative impact on your employer’s business, they certainly can punish you.

                Imagine that someone you love is murdered. The killer is brought to justice and that brings you some modicum of peace because even though it doesn’t bring your loved one back, the person who took them from you isn’t out enjoying their own life.

                Then one day you see a story on the news that the killer’s spouse is trash talking you and your family on social media. The story mentions that the spouse works at your favorite restaurant. Would you ever be comfortable going to that restaurant again? Would you expect the dozens of other people who cared about your lost loved one to go there?

                1. KHB*

                  A restaurant is kind of a special case, though. I wouldn’t be comfortable visiting a restaurant that employed someone who had a personal vendetta against me for any reason, because restaurant workers have the power to defile the food that I’m about to eat. For most other types of business, though, it’s a lot less clear cut.

                2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*


                  Okay, what if it’s a bank? What if it’s a plumber, or auto shop, or doctor’s office, or, or…. restaurants aren’t really a special case.

                3. Elizabeth West*

                  @KHB–not really. What if it’s a business that fabricates siding? They’ll have vendors and customers, same as a restaurant. Suppose they need a particular paint for that siding, and the paint company is all, “Whoa, we don’t want to do business with a company that [seemingly] tolerates that kind of horrible thing. We’re not selling you our paint anymore.”

                  Now they don’t have the good paint so they have to use a shitty paint from another vendor (who doesn’t care one way or the other). The quality of their product goes down, they lose customers, and it hurts their business. Plus, some customers may bail for the same reason the paint company did. Even if the company is strictly business-to-business, if the post is widespread enough, it absolutely can hurt them.

              3. SignalLost*

                Is hos employer the government? Apparently not. Therefore, like literally everyone else on the US who doesn’t work for the government, his employer has the practical right to suppress his free speech or at least decline to be associated with it. You can make it about capitalism if you like, but its more an issue of not paying attention to your social norms. I guarantee you, if he worked where my exptremely conservatice niece works, he’d be a social hero for “telling it like it is”.

                1. SignalLost*

                  @Candi – No, an extremely insular community already embedded in a pretty racist part of the South, where she and her family moved because they hate black people, believe every word of Fox News, think that the conservative evangelical churches in the PNW are too liberal, want to openly carry guns, and prefer to live in a state that was fighting same-sex marriage. Her workplace aligns pretty closely with her core beliefs, being composed of pretty similar people.

              4. DaisyGrrl*

                The problem with this employee’s comments is that they moved into the territory of interfering with the business of the employer. Not just in terms of their ability to maintain relationships with clients (although that’s huge…I wouldn’t expect to stay employed if I actively interfered in business relationships), but also in their ability to maintain a safe and respectful workplace.

                I’ve had more than one coworker who lost a loved one to violence. How would they feel if they had to work with this person? The employer may well have to balance firing the employee or having several people quit in protest.

                It’s never black and white, but I think in this case the scale tips in favour of firing the person for their comment since the damage they could cause the business is reasonably significant.

              5. Grey*

                Freedoms go both ways. If your employee has the freedom to verbally abuse your customers off the clock, shouldn’t you also have the freedom to fire them for harming your business?

              6. Anna*

                The thing about rights is that you are still tasked with using them responsibly. If you can’t, they are removed. Which is why there are things like prison for people who use their right to have a gun by hurting or killing someone with it. Or why you can’t use your right to free speech to incite violence.

                1. Only here for the teapots*

                  I wish, I wish, I wish!! Too many people misuse their religious rights to harm others, in much the way people use free speech for hate speech.

                2. Specialk9*

                  Wait what? That is some Stalin level thinking, dude. Rights are inalienable. They don’t get removed for misuse. I’m gobsmacked that you just said that.

                3. Candi*

                  (eyebrows shoot up)

                  Specialk9, I’m am surprised you said that. You’re usually much smarter than that.

                  In multiple countries, many of your rights are absolutely removed if you misuse them, whether they be specifically legal or just social or cultural.

                  For instance, in the US, you can move anywhere you darn well please within its borders and territories, as long as you can afford the travel. But break the law, and you have everything from probation to full-scale imprisonment.

                  We have the right, according to the Second Amendment and a SCOTUS decision, to individually own guns. (NO politics, please.) But break certain laws on various levels of government and -even if you did not use a gun- you can have that right to ownership (often permanently) revoked. Even if you did not use a gun, commiting the crime says something about your judgement.

                  For instance, in my state, those with DV convictions can not own guns -even if the conviction was years ago, the person completed whatever counseling was chosen or required, and the person has been a model spouse and parent ever since.

                  Felons lose the right to vote, again often permanently. Some can file for reinstatement after so much time has passed.

                  You know that one about needing a warrant to search your place? Generally that means they wait outside and watch until the warrant arrives But if the police have sufficient reason to think that evidence is going to be removed or destroyed, they can enter and secure the premises. They still have to wait for the warrant for anything not in plain sight.

                  Freedom of religion -what has that meant until the past thirty-fifty years? Socially, it meant heartbreakingly little.

                  The right to have children -or not have them- has been affected by law, culture, and socialization down through the years.

                  Finally, unalienable rights are in the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution. The Declaration was a polite “get lost” to the government of Britain; it is not a legal governing document of the US. (It does serve the purpose of being one of many sources for what the Founding Fathers were likely thinking.)

                4. Specialk9*

                  Candi, those are good points! Thanks for making me really think on this one.

                  I feel like all of your examples, though, are of governmental overreach rather than legit. (I love my country, but Stalinesque policies aren’t exactly unknown here, eg sterilizing people based on mental health and poverty – we did that, and recently.)

                  And good point that “inalienable” from the DecInd not Constitution, the concept came from John Locke (who called them “natural” rights).

                  Gun ownership isn’t really the right, the right is to have militias to prevent govt oppression. Militias would not be required to accept all candidates. Not everyone has the right to be in a militia, but militias must be allowed to exist. (And I would say that this ‘right’ is more historical baggage than a real right anyway.)

                  The way we treat criminals is immoral, racist, and classist… The only way we get away with it is by stealing their rights, unethically.

                5. fish*

                  Specialk9: I think the point of disagreement is over different categories of rights. We have Human Rights, which are rights that should NEVER be revoked: right to life, right to food, etc (I can’t remember the whole list, and there are some not on there I think should be).

                  And also there are a whole host of rights which CAN be revoked: as a member of the public, I have the right to be in my public library, during opening hours, but if I start setting fires and screaming at people that right can be revoked and I can be banned. If I murder someone my right to freely live in society can be revoked.

              7. Starbuck*

                “you are restricted to expressing only family-friendly corporate-approved sentiments.”

                …on social media, perhaps. It’s not like you’d need to restrict yourself constantly. Personal conversations, anonymous forums, etc.

              8. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                I don’t like it either that an employer can fire people for what they do off the clock because a lot of things it gets used for are frankly, none of the employers business. You should be able to write or post pictures about anything you do that is legal, involves consenting adults of the appropriate ages, and does not bring harm to others, without any kind of repercussions. I think people in general care way too much about what other people are doing, and not enough about what they themselves do. MYOFB!

                Hate speech, violent rhetoric, threats, bigotry, abusive language, racial and other slurs- that’s a WHOLE DIFFERENT STORY.



                That kind of speech is WRONG. It HARMS PEOPLE. It is used to dehumanize and strip the rights from and excuse the MURDER of millions upon millions of people. That’s what makes it different from other kinds of speech, and why it should never be protected or tolerated. Ideologies like that are the scourge of humanity and I long for the day when those with bigoted views are commonly considered to be hopelessly foolish, backwards, and ignorant…as they are.

                And if someone decides to vomit out their vile, disgusting views in a public arena, it’s not “punishment” when others are repulsed by it, and want nothing to do with them any more. Nobody wants to be around an asshole! Losing friends, family, spouse, job, etc- all the natural consequences of acting like a massive git.
                Funny how it *always* seems to be the assholes that whine and cry about their “freeze peach!!” rights…which to them, is the right to freely say whatever they want without getting any flak for it. And that’s not how the real world works.

                And it’s pretty disingenuous of you to frame this as a choice between bravely speaking up against power or being “restricted to expressing only family-friendly corporate-approved sentiments” when it’s actually a choice between “acting like an asshole” and “not acting like an asshole.”

              9. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                If a woman leaves a verbally abusive spouse, is she “punishing” him?

                If Fergus stops speaking to his racist homophobic Southern Baptist grandmother, is he “punishming” her?

                If Wakeen hears a cashier at the grocery store making slurs against disabled people, and reports her to the manager, who then fires her- is he “punishing” her?

                If Palpatine writes an online screed about “victims rights scum” that angers so many it’s on the news, and people protest at his house, and is fired from his job, are they “punishing” him?

                Hint: the answer to all these questions is NO

            2. IT is not EZ*

              No one has taken away his First Amendment rights, correct.

              They most certainly have stiffled his Free Speech rights.

              One’s a legal standard in the US and other countries. The other is a moral position.

              1. Detective Amy Santiago*

                No one has stifled his free speech rights. No one is arguing that he didn’t have the right to say what he said. The right to free speech does not guarantee you the right to a receptive audience.

          1. Akcipitrokulo*

            Freedom of association means you are protected from being prevented from associating, and protected from being forced to join groups, not that you are protected from associating with people you don’t like.

            1. KHB*

              Right. I’ve had a number of coworkers that I don’t like and would rather not have associated with. It never would have occurred to me to demand that my employer fire them for that reason.

              1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                And you still have freedom of association, because if they really get that awful, you have the right to quit. You’re making the determination that your continued association with the business is more valuable to you (for pretty obvious reasons) than your desire to not associate with these particular people.

                1. KHB*

                  Yes, and if the company in Letter #1 had chosen to continue to employ the employee in question, that wouldn’t have been a freedom of association issue for the coworkers either. Because freedom of association doesn’t confer an absolute right to associate with all the people/entities you like and none of the ones you don’t.

                2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                  Yep, exactly. It would still entail that tradeoff. Is the continued association with the business worthwhile?

                  There is very little in life that honestly has zero consequence whatsoever.

              2. LCL*

                Hm, I work for big government (TM). You’ve just given me an idea on how I could deal with some especially troublesome employees…

          2. Oregonian*

            I think you’re misunderstanding the notion of freedom of association. That right is related to the freedom to join or leave an organization, start and organization, and/or taking collective action.

            Freedom of Association has nothing to do with making an individual be around another individual.

        2. Ramona Flowers*

          Whereas I don’t necessarily think he’s a terrible person – though he said a terrible thing, for sure – but I do think being fired was a reasonable consequence.

          1. Specialk9*

            I feel comfortable saying that a terrible person is someone who goes out of his way to be a penpal with a known murderer, get engaged to a murderer, and then proudly trash the murderer’s victim’s family for seeking their rights as scum.

            1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

              I know someone who contacted a long lost friend, who was serving a life sentence in prison for murder. Pen pal, engaged, *allllmost* married (eloped with a drug addict instead.)
              And yes, she is an all-around TERRIBLE PERSON.

        3. Kaitlyn*

          …the principle of free speech is supposed to be something that guides us as a society, not just something that binds our government.

          Whoa, no. The government has special powers that society at large doesn’t have—the power to convict and imprison people, for example—and to wield that against people whose speech they disagree with would be an abuse. Individual people are under no obligation to entertain people whose speech (or actions), while not illegal, is immoral or repugnant to them. The same extends to larger bodies such as employers—they simply don’t have the powers that government has to restrict freedoms based on speech, but they can certainly refuse to associate themselves, either in person or in brand, with people whose speech they find awful. Just because you have the right to say something freely doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to refuse to hear you.

          1. Ossielot*

            Your definition of society, not mine.

            There are a lot of groups in the United States, particularly some tribes I’ve worked with, who view the issue differently.

            There is no consensus in American society, such as it is, about the principle of free speech as a societal norm. There is a constitutional principle by which the government is bound.

            I’m guessing you’re too young to remember the 1960s or the aftermath, but that whole decade was about the limits of free speech in society as well as free-speech is a constitutional principle when that speech is being used to challenge the social structures.

            We’re seeing this now with the me to movement. For example, Matt Damon being told to sit down, shut up, and listen to women.

            It’s not a settled point.

            1. fposte*

              Yes, I agree; I think that free speech isn’t as cut and dried as some of the responses indicate. This is an easy example to be on the “Hell, no” side of, but most iterations aren’t so emotionally simple.

        4. Anne (with an "e")*

          It’s not a crime to express abhorrent opinions, thus, he will not face any legal consequences. He will not receive a ticket. He will not be fined. He will not be tried. He will not be incarcerated for any length of time. The Bill of Rights ensures all of this. However, that is ALL the First Amendment ensures.

          His employer can fire him. People can refuse to associate with him. He can be shunned by society. He can be expelled from numerous clubs and organizations.

          What you say, write, post, etc. has consequences.

        5. Penny Lane*

          “Having and/or expressing a gross opinion is *not a crime.* The principle of free speech is supposed to be extended to–it is specifically FOR–speech that is offensive or that we do not like, and the principle of free speech is supposed to be something that guides us as a society, not just something that binds our government.”

          Anion, I think you’re a bit confused about what freedom of speech is. It has to do with the *government* not punishing you for your speech. It has nothing to do with consequences from private individuals. As a private citizen, you have the free speech right to call black people the n-word, just to give a disgusting example. Also as a private citizen, I can a) refuse to socialize with you, b) tell all our mutual friends not to associate with you, c) call your employer and tell him that you use this word publicly and it’s off-putting to customers, d) refuse to buy from your business if you own a business, and e) if I’m your employer, I can most certainly tell you to knock it off and if you don’t, you’ll be fired. None of those impinge on your right to free speech, and it’s concerning to me that you think they do. Being employed by a *specific company* is not a constitutional right.

          1. fposte*

            I think there are two conversations here that are being treated as one, though. The U.S.’s legal protection of free speech isn’t identical to philosophical concept of freedom of speech, and of course neither of those are monoliths anyway.

            1. Jesca*

              Yes. Also, some of the examples above, if found to be false against the accused, CAN actually land you in some trouble through civil courts. Free speech doesn’t absolve you from slanderous/libel statements to in fact falsely or with lack of evidence try to ruin the reputation of another person. So, yes, you can run to someone’s employer, state it on the radio, tell everyone in town, write to the paper – all of it. But you better be damn sure you are 100% sure or you will not only be ethically wrong, but you can be rightfully sued.

              1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                True, and some forms of speech can even be criminalized — the arguments around protected vs non-protected speech are fascinating. Calling in bomb threats, for example, isn’t protected speech — courts have determined that the government’s interest in preventing violence or threats of violence overrides a person’s right to call up a school and falsely tell them there’s a bomb in it.

            2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

              My moral view of free speech is “you can say whatever you want, but you still don’t actually have any right whatsoever to treat people like shit.”

        6. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          No, the First A is pretty specifically directed at laws passed by Congress. Even the part where that restriction also applies to state governments is not part of the First A, that’s elsewhere.

          Remember, it’s “Congress shall make no law…. abridging the freedom of speech”

        7. Plague of frogs*

          Anion, if you really feel that the principle of free speech is being violated when consequences are handed out for abhorrent speech, you should work to fix that. You should socialize with and hire the people who have expressed the most abhorrent opinions. People who advocate child molestation, people who advocate genocide, people who tell you they would like to kill you (but stop short of saying that they will).

          If you choose not to do that, than I suspect that you are choosing, like the rest of us, to exercise your own freedoms.

      5. Ramona Flowers*

        “because it is risking the most dangerous kind of censorship at all: self-censorship, where people have to think of what their employer would think of any action before they take it in case it becomes publicly known.”

        But we all do this, to some extent (unless you’re doing an Eli Loker-style radical truth experiment, for Lie to Me fans).

        I used to work with teenagers and I most certainly had to be held to certain standards of behaviour and to pass a background check.

        In my current job my public conduct could, if ill-considered, cost the charity support.

        Though it is worth mentioning that actually it’s not censorship when it’s not to do with the government – this isn’t nitpicking, we should be clear that you are free to do as you like and your employer is free to not employ you as a result (with some obvious legal exceptions).

        1. Wintermute*

          It bothers me so much because it’s a part of classism, it’s a part of the oppression of the working class, and it’s an extension of this Victorian-esque idea that your employer has a proprietary interest in your life and that they have the right to dictate how you conduct yourself at all times.

          It also bothers me because of the classist implications– soon political advocacy and anything that could be “controversial” could be a privilege restricted to those who are self-employed or own their own business, because mere plebians cannot afford to risk being fired for “controversial” postings.

            1. Triumphant Fox*

              But this made it to the media. It’s unclear if anyone from work saw the original post at all – a screen shot was taken and it was considered newsworthy by someone and it began circulating and people got up in arms about it. This isn’t the same as posting vacation photos after layoffs only to your friends rather than former employees – those aren’t offensive, just tactless. If your photo is taken at an alt-right rally and it makes it on the news – your employer may not want to associate with that. If you work for a pro-life organization and were quoted in the media supporting late-term abortions – your employer may not want to associate with that. People have regretted saying/doing those things in public forums, thinking their employer wouldn’t find out, but you can’t really guarantee that.

          1. Ossielot*

            Way to assume everyone is white and works within that culture frame.

            Yes, there can be class and political elements. However, the United States is very big place. We know nothing about his employers.

            For all we know, he could be working for people who are immigrants, a tribal entity, etc.

            My point? We’re assuming societal norms being shared across the whole United States. They are not on the point of free speech.

              1. Delphine*

                I think it’s very hard to have a discussion about what is and isn’t free speech and what actions are allowed to be taken against someone who says something disagreeable/horrible without referencing race, when race is often related to what is begin said or to who is being censored. It’s going to come up.

            1. artgirl*

              Would you mind explaining the element of Wintermute’s post that assumed everyone is white? Genuinely not following and would like to learn! Thank you :)

          2. Anne (with an "e")*

            Wintermute, I understand that you are bothered. However, that doesn’t change the reality of the situation. Your employer can fire you. The majority of states are at will. Not liking it does not change that fact.

            Personally, it does not overly bother me. I understand that my actions, both on and off the clock, have consequences. I have always known this, so it is not something new that I am just now realizing and having to come to gripes with.

              1. Specialk9*

                The 23 year old OP is being taught some hard truths about the workplace, but still seems to think they’re in college and so they’re not receptive. This isn’t a situation they can argue with a teacher and change the grade. They “advocate” for the murderer’s attack dog, and watch how long before they OP gets fired too.

            1. Wintermute*

              That’s true, I’m not disputing their right to do so (though I think that using “free speech is for government only!” when talking in this context is a straw man, no one is saying there were legal rights violated here).

              It’s more of a case of “be careful what you wish for” because if we continue to accept, and even cheer the wider application of, the common principle that your employer has absolute reach over your life and all things you say and do because we want to use it to go after people that say things we consider disgusting, soon that principle becomes extended to things your EMPLOYER considers disgusting, like supporting labor unionism (yes I know there are NLRB protections, but the current administration would never enforce them), or supporting increases in corporate tax, or fair tax, or safety net clawbacks (where your employer is charged the cost of government benefits if they fail to pay you sufficiently to survive), or any number of other positions a corporate overlord may not like.

              People here seem to also be assuming that this will only ever be used for truly abhorrent things *in their worldview*. If a company will go to court and take it all the way to the supreme court to fight for the right not to pay for prescribed medical treatment for things they disagree with you’d better believe they’d fire you for “liking” planned parenthood on Facebook. Is that a norm we want to be accepted in this country? Do we want that to be legal? Or do we want to make that an exception where people say “wow, they are really over-reaching into their employee’s private lives, there’s a firewall between work and home that they ought to respect”?

              I understand that this is not new, but I will always bring it up because it really is a part of an insidious rebirth of the proprietary behavior, the attitude that employees lived and died for the corporation and their entire life was at their employer’s benefit, that made Pullman and Ford so hated a century ago, part of the system of class oppression that lead to the labor movement in the first place. Ford would have thugs toss employee’s company homes looking for alcohol and tobacco, but they don’t have to anymore, because they can use your own social media against you.
              But it’s largely escaping the attention of labor activists because it’s being used mostly to attack “safe” targets and those on the political far-right. I find it alarming how people really don’t seem to connect employer over-reach into private lives with classism, racism and the oppression of the working class.

          3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            Consider that people who are self-employed or who own their own businesses are, if anything, more restricted in their speech and conduct, because their employers are their clients. My father was self-employed, and part of his job was going into people’s homes to provide services. He had to be extremely vigilant about he presented himself to them, because if he came across as someone they wouldn’t want in their homes, his work would dry up.

            1. Competent Commenter*

              Oh hell yeah. When we are as self employed I had to be triply careful! Self employed people have even less security. Instead of one employer that might fire you, you have potentially dozens of clients who could. Eesh. Gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about it. Self employment is precarious not privileged in many ways.

              1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                Yeah, there really is not any kind of realistic money that could induce me to go the self-employment route. I saw how hard it was on my dad and no thank you!!

                1. Competent Commenter*

                  I loved it, although the financial insecurity was a huge emotional burden, more than I realized until I went back to a regular job. But being able to seamlessly integrate my personal and professional time was worth so much. Before I could make medical appointments for myself or the kids (both of whom need a lot of mental and physical health care), get therapy, join a running group, make follow-up calls, etc. in between client work during regular business hours. Sometimes it meant that I had to make up time at night although I think more frequently if I worked in the evenings it had more to do with tight or conflicting client deadlines. Now that I’m at work from 8:30-6 each day, I have only this little slice of time per day to do anything personal. So all those calls and appointments stack up. Me and the kids have all missed our six-month dental appointments (I mean like now it’s time for the next six-month appointment). The variety of medical issues just have to be treated one at a time. Currently getting PT for an injury. That means I’m not going to the dentist. I really hate that part of a regular job.

                2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                  Oh yeah, I can definitely understand that. And Dad was a lifelong self-employer — before he went into business as a piano technician, he inherited a family store that his father had owned and operated. It worked out really well for him — and for us, considering that my mother had commutes from hell for her entire working life. Dad’s flexibility helped balance out her long hours.

                  But man, I’m so glad it’s not me. I couldn’t do what he did.

                3. Elizabeth West*

                  Same here. I can’t make enough doing it to make it worthwhile. If I could, like a million-dollar book deal or something, then maybe. But even then, I think I’d still be too scared to quit if I were working, unless I had a spouse who made enough to cover our insurance, etc.

              2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                And here I loved self employment because not only did I make more money than I ever had at any other time in my life, I had the freedom to tell assholes and bad customers to GTFO.

                I probably sound like a grouchy old crank, (I’m really not! I’m nice and happy and laugh all the time!) but the truth is I just refuse to take shit from anyone.

          4. Competent Commenter*

            Um, I guess, but I’m a middle class director of communications for a large university and believe me I’m careful about what I post on social media in my personal life as it will obviously reflect on my institution.

            1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

              Yeah, I think this is to some degree the opposite of a classist issue, because the more prominent you are, generally speaking the more deliberate with your media presentation you have to be. This is an area where the CEO of my investment firm can’t say things that I, a low-level registered representative, can — and there are things that the custodial staff can say on social media that I can’t, because I’m held to industry ethical standards they aren’t.

              1. Penny Lane*

                That is exactly true, Countess Boochie Flagrante, and an excellent observation. Without getting into politics, that’s part of what is so stunning about the Trump presidency – because any president / CEO of any company would have been given the boot immediately for saying some of the outrageous stuff (about minorities, etc.) that Trump says. Because the higher up you are, the *more* you have to be careful in what you say, because the more you are seen as a public “face” to your company. So, no, I don’t think “it’s classist” is the right thing here.

          5. Stormfeather*

            It’s not classism and oppression to expect people to hold themselves to some standard of civilized behavior.

            That’s like saying it’s oppression and an expectation of self-censorship if someone starts throwing around the n-word and acting like a racist dick, and other people shun him.

            Or to put it another way, yes, people should censor themselves when employed, just as EVERYONE should censor themselves at any point. Generally (or at least in an ideal situation) people don’t go around saying every little thing that pops into their heads. They watch language around children. They don’t use racial insults just because someone of a different race ticks them off. They don’t curse out their boss when they are stressed, and don’t verbally harass someone just because they find the person physically attractive. People have to watch what they say and edit their speech in their heads, and this is a GOOD THING.

            1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

              Yep. Call it self-censorship if you like, but maturity is a better description.

          6. Pommette!*

            Yes, and thank you for posting this.

            The OP’s coworker behaved in a cruel way by posting comments that might hurt the people concerned, and showed poor judgement in publicly sharing unpopular views. I have little sympathy for him, and understand why the employer chose to fire him.

            At the same time, I think that a world in which a employment is contingent on being perceived as “a good person” by one’s employer is a world where it is impossible for the majority of the population – for people who aren’t independently wealthy – to engage in certain kinds of speech. It’s a society in which it’s dangerous for people to engage in advocacy work for causes that go against the grain of their community and their employer’s values. A lot of good has come from such people’s actions in the past.

            I’m also disturbed by the social media post -> regular media scandal cycle that sometimes play out when people do outrageous things (like insult victims’ groups). News spreads fast and wide, and people find themselves unemployable over one thing they said. A few years ago, a man in my community was caught on camera wearing a military uniform at a Remembrance Day event when he was not, in fact, a veteran. There was a huge scandal. After media sought his employer out, he was fired from his job and, presumably, not rehired anywhere because he was now famous as ‘that guy who impersonated a veteran and yes media will descend on your business if you hire him’. And that was it. We all knew one part of the story about one thing he did in his life, and he lost his ability to earn a living. Why did he do it? Was he mentally sound? That wasn’t addressed by any of the stories about him and his actions.

            An environment where summary firings of people who misbehave outside of work is bad for people with certain kinds of problems (mental illness; addiction). It’s also bad for people who have unpopular beliefs. And it’s really bad if employers and employees have a different idea of what values are acceptable.

          7. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

            That sounds like the plot of a novel written jointly by Dickens and Orwell.

        2. Oranges*

          My grandfather had a book about this (he wanted to be the next Freud). Interestingly enough HE was the only person allowed to be “truthful” everyone else was just wrong….

      6. Woodswoman*

        An employer has the right to terminate an employee whose behavior is publicly associated with that place of employment. In this case, the disturbing and rightfully unpopular comment the employee made on social media got picked up by the press, and he was publicly identified as an employee of the company. That’s different than just personally expressing his opinion on social media. Once his employer was identified in the press, their reputation could be tainted by being associated with him. It’s completely understandable that they fired him.

        As for your comment about people having to worry about how what they say on social media could affect their job, I see nothing unreasonable about that. I am quite aware of that on a regular basis. I work at a wonderful, accepting place. Nevertheless, I don’t post anything on my blog that I wouldn’t want my coworkers to find and read. The internet can be a lot smaller than people think.

        1. Lucy Montrose*

          As for your comment about people having to worry about how what they say on social media could affect their job, I see nothing unreasonable about that.

          The problem with that, and with at-will employment in general, is that what you post doesn’t have to be offensive.

          All it really has to do is go against the culture of the company.

          And not just in ways like working for a pro-life organization and being less than 100% anti-abortion. If your boss is fitness-oriented, they could think your posts about delicious fattening food, or your lack of participation in sports, could make you a poor fit. If your boss thinks people who drink are more fun and positive than people who don’t, and you post about not liking to drink, or about the pressure to drink at work functions, they could say that’s a poor fit. (And, really, not just that you fit poorly in your company, but that you have a negative attitude.)

          All of those are everyday differences and disagreements people have with their company culture… not obvious “don’t be an asshole” stuff as in the OP. And yet, thanks to at-will employment, there’s nothing to stop an employer from not only calling you a poor fit, but stunting your career progression and casting aspersions on your personality and character… all for the “crime” of not having as high an affinity with their culture as they want. You may be a 70% fit… but there’s nothing to stop your boss from jettisoning you and hiring an 80% fit in your place. Or somebody who’s just a tiny bit happier than you are.

          People don’t have to dislike you to reject you. They just have to not like you *quite* enough.

          1. Woodswoman*

            Yep, all true. To clarify what I meant, it’s quite reasonable to think about what you post and how it might affect your employment. Because if you don’t think about that in advance (unless you are represented by a union) you’re vulnerable to being fired. So that’s good to remember that threat is there.

      7. Penny Lane*

        “That’s true but there is a well-entrenched principle that what you do off the clock is not valid grounds for work discipline in general. I for one am unconvinced that “well social media means you’re always a brand ambassador so you can’t ever say or do anything controversial”.”

        There’s no such entrenched principle at all. If I go on social media and bash my company’s client’s products, or use the n-word to describe my coworkers or clients, the company most assuredly can fire me. Why couldn’t they? I still have the right to say those things, because having a right is about having the legal right to do something, not being immune from private consequences of expressing that belief.
        The state can’t punish you, but other people most certainly can (by not employing you, terminating your employment, not associating with you socially).

        My spouse is a descendant of Holocaust survivors. He runs a small business. Tell me again why he should have to employ, let’s say, someone who posted pictures of himself participating in the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville and spoke favorably about neo-Nazi sentiments? He can give his hard-earned money to someone else.

        1. Ossielot*

          Thank you for this post. I’m a little bit frustrated with the very white centric POV’s expressed. A lot of non-white, non-European groups within the United States society view these things very differently.

          1. Lora*

            Yes. It’s a very majority- or at least privileged-group- idea. I’ve lived in areas where anyone not a specific type of Christian (Unitarians and Quakers didn’t count, and Catholics were viewed with suspicion), not firmly heterosexual and monogamous and either married or planning to marry, not a particular political party or not white, was automatically considered unfit for employment in the local economy. Everyone else was expected to lie or self-censor as much as possible, and try to “pass” if they could, and it was a fact of life. It wasn’t fair, it was horribly nasty and discriminatory, but that was how employers made decisions – whether or not they admitted to it. And unless they were a large employer with a legitimate fear of a class action suit (there were no labor lawyers in the area – much less one who would take a case against the largest employer the area had, for fear of being the person who drove the largest employer to close the site and move it to China) from a significant number of employees, they had no reason to not be discriminatory.

            This was before social media was invented, too. Non-majority folks had perhaps one bar on the edge of town or maybe a couple of towns over, where they could speak openly in public without fear of it getting back to their employer and resulting in trouble for them. There has never EVER been a right to be yourself outside of work and not have employment repercussions for people of color, non-“right” type of Christians, LGBTQ folks, people not straight white Protestant male. Being honest about yourself as a person has always been a risk for people without privilege.

            So I’m kinda wondering when and where this utopia of separation of Work and State existed? I have also worked in cultures where employers evaluate potential employees on technical skills, official rank of some sort (can be actual royalty or some other social ranking such as “not a chav”) and education only: many parts of Europe (especially Germany, Switzerland and the UK) and South Asian countries hire/fire in this way. In contrast, North and South America, China and Japan place more weight on social interactions, networking and interview behaviors when hiring; personally I like this much better, as technical skills can be taught but you can’t teach someone not to be an a-hole, so if you are a hiring manager you can simply decide that you won’t hire a-holes. This makes my life much easier…

            1. Oranges*

              I never put it in this language before but all the push against “politically correct” that’s happening. This is the reaction of a person who has never had to self censor before isn’t it? A position of power.

              1. Specialk9*

                Yes. I’m seeing the exact same unwitting majority-privileged attitude in the outrage that people might get a separate kitchen for religious reasons.

            2. LCL*

              The utopia of separation of Work and State hasn’t existed, yet. But it is something we should all be working towards. We have never had a perfect world where all people treat each other kindly and without prejudice either, yet the vast majority of people believe it is something to work towards.

              1. Lora*

                “The utopia of separation of Work and State hasn’t existed, yet. But it is something we should all be working towards. ”

                I work in a highly regulated field, which became highly regulated for extremely good reasons – because they were blithely killing people before the regulations were put in place, and getting away with it for specious reasons. So I’m not sure I agree with this; I wouldn’t want to work with someone who is a committed anti-vaxxer, or a Scientologist, or a Christian Scientist who doesn’t believe in medical interventions, because in my workplace we make vaccines and drugs and you have to have a solid understanding of how they work and why they are important, in order to do the job properly. Similarly, I don’t think that there should be belief exemptions for health care workers who won’t prescribe drugs or carry out procedures that go against their religious beliefs: find a new fking job that doesn’t affect your beliefs.

                You can argue that in the LW’s particular case, perhaps the job is question is not so critically affected by his FaceSpace rant and therefore where does one draw the line between your personal life actually affecting the job or employer in a significant way? But we don’t really have enough information from the letter to debate that, I think.

                1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                  “Similarly, I don’t think that there should be belief exemptions for health care workers who won’t prescribe drugs or carry out procedures that go against their religious beliefs: find a new fking job that doesn’t affect your beliefs.”

                  Repeating this for emphasis.

            3. Galatea*

              “Being honest about yourself as a person has always been a risk for people without privilege.”


            4. Lucy Montrose*

              Thank you for painting this very accurate picture of employer decision making, Lora. Most employees who fall out of favor with their bosses are never as obviously disrespectful as the poster. Rather, they just failed to match the boss’ personal values.

              And since cultural fit is deemed more important than qualifications in being hired now, that’s a serious limitation on our freedom in our so-called “land of the free”. And I think it explains a lot about why Americans are both less happy and less civically involved than people in other first-world countries.

              LCL, in America we absolutely should be working to be better than this. And that work starts with NOT shrugging and saying “that’s the way it is”.

            1. Oranges*

              I think she outlines that some comments are coming across as from a place of privilege. Which yes they are, you can tell by what people say. Just like if I tried to pick up sportsball as a hobby. My obvious knowledge gaps will be obvious.

              I understand that Wintermute and others want corporations to have less power since they have so bloody much already.

              I understand also that the idea of “free speech” as a moral (not government) right can come across a bit aggrivating to those who grow up having to self censor who they are every single day. It takes time/energy to dance on that knife edge of being true to who you are vs. your mental/physical safety. And it can rub the wrong way when someone says “I should be able to say what I want without societal/life consequences”. Especially because usually the thing they’re defending is the right to be horrible to people who already self censor.

              1. Lucy Montrose*

                There is almost nobody I can talk to about concerns about corporate culture, mission creep, or employer encroachment into my private life. Not career coaches, not psychologists, and certainly not the average person on the street.

                If my employer is going to require me to wear a Fitbit, or give them my personal health information, or thinks religious people are more positive and socialized than nonbelievers, I deserve to know that. And other people with similar concerns deserve to know and talk about that, too.

                And my only option should not be “find another job”. First off: that idea presumes an inflexible and immutable corporate culture, where only ourselves can be changed. Second, it gives up on forming a good relationship with a boss different from us; and it keeps reinforcing the idea that have to be similar to somebody in order to get along or work well with them. Third, this results in homogeneous workplaces full of yes-men; and no one is motivated
                to change because they’re all so comfortable with each other.

                At least in America, we have lost the ability to get along with people different from us. We, collectively, have lost the ability to have conflict and still be friends. And I lay blame squarely at the feet of making our *ability to make a living* contingent on fitting in.

                1. Lora*

                  All we have now are the whisper networks and Glassdoor. Which isn’t nothing, but it’s definitely suboptimal.

                  I can say that not being able to get along with our fellow citizens is something of a rural/urban divide: when I get on the T, there’s a whole mess of commuters from several socioeconomic levels and all different religions and races and cultures, just trying to get to work and complaining about the Red Line. It was really when I lived in rural areas that being ostracized and non-majority meant I wouldn’t have a livelihood at all; in cities, there’s a whole range of jobs and in many of them nobody really cares about your background. They just want their pizza/bedpan emptied/hipster drink in a mason jar/computer fixed. And lots of the folks rejected by their rural communities moved to the city, and are happy to keep their heads down and go about their daily business un-bothered. Which means that the folks back in my hometown in East Cowflop can go through life unchallenged by my continued evasion of a vengeful deity and imagine that the rest of the country is just like them, but…

                  Saw an interesting election analysis, but that is getting into Rules territory, so I’ll leave it there.

                2. antigone_ks*

                  “we have lost the ability to get along with people different from us. We, collectively, have lost the ability to have conflict and still be friends.”

                  No, *we* never had the ability to get along with people different than us. Non-white, non-straight, non-male, non-Christian people had the “ability” (or more accurately, the requirement) to lie about themselves, accept horrible treatment, and grovel to keep their jobs and their safety. Straight white Christian men may have called it “getting along,” but the rest of us knew it as basic survival.

                  Now, those of us who can have begun limiting the amount of hiding, lies, and ill-treatment that we will tolerate, and we’re accused of “not getting along.”

                3. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                  “At least in America, we have lost the ability to get along with people different from us. We, collectively, have lost the ability to have conflict and still be friends”

                  Nope, can’t lose something we never had.

      8. Colette*

        Completely disagree that you can’t – or shouldn’t – be fired for something you do off the clock. If you shoot someone or protest outside your employer or spread hate about a group of people, why would your employer need to keep employing you?

        Why would your friends and acquaintances want to keep associating with you, if they feel that what you are saying or doing is morally wrong?

        Free speech means you can’t be arrested for what you say. It has nothing to do with other people having to treat you like you didn’t say it.

      9. Oregonian*

        As others have pointed out: this has nothing to do with a partner’s “legal status”. The employee wasn’t fired for being engaged to a convicted criminal – they were fired for verbally and publicly attacking a victim.

        I think there is a key component that you’re not including: his employer was publicly named in this whole kerfuffle. The employee didn’t identify themselves as such (I don’t think – it’s slightly unclear), but the identification was still made. Once that happens, the employer is dragged into the situation. It is understandable that the employer felt obligated to take a position on the matter.

        There is also a clear distinction between attacking a victim of a violent crime versus being alt-right. One is a political position, and one is a malicious attack.

        All that aside: the “all-or-nothing” stance you’re taking completely ignores that making judgement calls is apart of being an adult.

        1. Specialk9*

          I’m having a hard time looking past you arguing that the ‘alt right’ isn’t a malicious attack, given that they want me and mine to be expelled from my country (preferably) and killed (if need be). Genocide isn’t a political position; please don’t legitimize it.

      10. Rusty Shackelford*

        you could make a cogent enough argument that firing someone for their spouse’s legal status (which you can paint this as)

        And how would one paint it that way?

      11. neverjaunty*

        You can always “make an argument”. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to rely on that argument in a lawsuit.

        And the “principle” that everything you do outside of work doesn’t count is not a real principle. Sure, the company can’t insist each and every person be a brand ambassador. But if I livestream myself at home spewing insults about my co-workers, would you argue my boss is powerless to respond?

        1. Lucy Montrose*

          Sure, the company can’t insist each and every person be a brand ambassador. 

          I fear, with hiring for cultural fit, that 24/7 brand ambassadors are what every employer wants. I worry that’s what they look for when they say they want positive, enthusiastic people… that just being a good team member won’t be enough.

          1. Specialk9*

            It sounds like a more generalized phobia than this specific incident warrants. This dude is going to marry a murderer pen pal and set himself up as the murderer’s attack dog against her victim’s family. That’s not the same as Big Brother demanding you smile in your sleep and wear corporate branded underwear on vacation. This one’s actually pretty darn clear cut and non Orwellian. (Unlike, well, much of reality these days.)

      12. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        I personally think it’s ridiculous when employers get all prim & purse-lipped over what employees post when it’s things that are personal choices or an unalterable aspect of their life/person, are legal, respectful/non-derogatory, harm nobody, and nobody’s business to criticize or comment on unless that person invites them to. Things like pictures/discussions of parties, booze, bars, & legal drugs; scantily clad photos (male or female); anything to do with protected classes (that is respectful/non-derogatory), and so on. The things that aren’t really anybody else’s business to criticize or comment on. And yes, even when it’s publicly viewable. People who have non-mainstream/unconventional lives and/or interests shouldn’t have to hide themselves away because others disapprove. That’s the kind of “offensive” that is just some Nosey Parker getting their knickers in a twist after butting in where they don’t belong.

        But once you start in on the hate speech? The violent rhetoric? The slurs & epithets & dog whistle language? Minimizing & dehumanizing those you see as “other”?

        All bets are off

        Because at that point you’ve gone beyond exercising your own rights to be and say and do, and you are actively harming others and infringing on THEIR rights.
        What’s that saying? “Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins”? That goes for your verbal and written fists too. And just like your employer has every right to fire you if you beat the crap out of someone/s with your fists, they have the right to fire you if you beat the crap out of someone/s with your written or spoken words.
        This guy used his written words to beat the crap out of crime victims and their advocates. And he couldn’t foresee the consequences of that? Massive fail in judgement to go along with that massive fail in empathy. Politics & viewpoints aside, on a practical level, is someone with that poor judgement really someone you want working for you?

    7. L*

      #1- most of the comments here seem directed towards the freedom of speech/legality of the firing. OP- im genuinely confused as to why you feel bad for the fiancee. Who he chooses to marry/associate with is totally his own business…but are you really ok supporting someone who publicly bashed the family of murder victims? I think this tells a lot about this person and I certainly wouldn’t feel even remotely comfortable sticking up for his actions

    8. Juli G.*

      That is rude especially to LW4. She’s working in a one person organization. We don’t know what her other experiences are so we have no idea how she’s learned professional norms – maybe just from the internet.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#2, what’s the rationale behind restricting access / banning non-kosher employees from entering the kitchen?

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      I am guessing the concern is that if someone brings in non-kosher food, that could affect the kosher status of the kitchen and render it unusable for the staff who do keep kosher.

      1. Shira*

        This is correct. (I mean, I don’t know if that’s the exclusive reason in this case, but it is true that non kosher food could make the kitchen unusable for kosher keeping staff.) It can get complicated because someone who doesn’t keep kosher themselves might not be aware of things that could affect the kosher status of the kitchen, e.g. someone might think that “kosher food” just means “no pork or shellfish” while the people who keep kosher there might have stricter standards re: kosher certified food, etc.
        I worked at a Jewish non profit with people who kept kosher to varying degrees or not at all, and this was occasionally an issue.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Oh, I understand that. It just strikes me that it’s easier to regulate the use of the kitchen than the people in the kitchen.

          1. HannahS*

            How? I get “easier” in the sense that people would be less opposed to it, but it’s certainly harder from the perspective of the kosher-observant employees. I mean, you lock the door, and you’re assured that the kitchen is kept kosher. Regulating the use of the kitchen would involve either educating people to a ludicrous degree, or trusting them to respect a religious requirement that they don’t understand.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Could you not tell people they’re not to bring in utensils/dishware or food, but that they can use the kitchen for things like washing their hands?

              I understand that keeping a kitchen kosher is intricate and has a lot of room for error. But if it’s a non-religious organization, I think it’s difficult to justify a “no non-kosher employees” rule without running afoul of antidiscrimination laws.

              1. HannahS*

                Yes of course, you can tell people anything, but I think aside from the experience of those of us who do keep kosher, the number of stories we get on this board of the general public’s inability to respect even common dietary requirements like vegetarianism shows that people aren’t great at it. The rule would have to be that absolutely zero food or drink can be carried in, prepared, or consumed unless the employee strictly observes the rules of kashrut, and then trust people to do that. Now, if that’s legally what’s required, then it’s legally what’s required. But my point was that from the perspectives of the employees that want to keep kosher, it’s definitely easier to just have your own space.

                1. Anion*

                  Yes, I have a nightmarish image of some co-worker thinking, “Oh, but my ham sandwich is wrapped in plastic, it’s fine to put it in this fridge where there’s more space,” without realizing or caring what a huge deal that is.

                2. Steve*

                  I was going to make the same point about vegetarianism (I’ve been one for 29 years). You can tell people whatever rules you want about keeping kosher but they’ll be violated in the first week, possibly even intentionally. “Oops – I just needed to rinse something out in the sink real quick! The other one is being used.”

                  People frequently use their *own* judgment about what does or doesn’t violate the rules with these kinds of things, and not the rules that have been told to them. The lock/code is the best solution.

                3. INTP*

                  This is totally understandable. I’m gluten free, and I wouldn’t use an allergy kitchen that was full of coworkers with no allergy concerns even if they claimed they were being cautious. People usually aren’t malicious but are often clueless.

                  That said, I think it would be best to address why people would want to use the kitchen in the first place. If there are adequate appliances, space, and cleanliness in the regular kitchen, people will probably be happy to stay out of the kosher one. If they’re lining up for the microwave and fighting over fridge space and their coworkers aren’t cleaning up after themselves, they’ll probably try to sneak over, but answering those problems with a lock on the door won’t be great for morale.

                4. Case of the Mondays*

                  @Steve – or people who live by “what they don’t know won’t hurt them” for non-allergy stuff like vegetarian or kosher.

                5. peachie*

                  I went to a very Jewish college and keeping strictly kosher is COMPLICATED. I’m not Jewish, but even after years of cooking with friends who were orthodox, I had to ask about every step of the cooking process and every utensil/stove/oven/microwave/dishwasher I used to make sure I’d caught everything. It can be hard to remember when it’s not your own practice, even when trying very hard to learn.

                  I think a simpler solution might be to change the tone but not the intent of the sign, something like, “This kitchen is kept strictly kosher. If you do not keep kosher, we kindly request that you use the main kitchen. Thank you!” I think perhaps the negative reaction to the sign is more a reaction to being “yelled at.”

                6. peachie*

                  Saw Alison’s/TL’s comments below and I’d rephrase my proposed language to capture the sense of “This kitchen is only for kosher FOOD,” rather than “people who keep kosher,” the way a gluten-free kitchen must exclude food containing gluten but not people without a gluten intolerance.

                7. Specialk9*

                  I don’t get why it’s discrimination to provide a religious accomodation that in no way impacts the non-religious. Everyone has a kitchen. Most small offices only have 1, this one has 1 for general use and 1 for religious accomodation so that the historically oppressed minority can also eat comfortably the way the majority ALWAYS gets to.

                  Watching people who are decidedly NOT oppressed complain about the ‘discrimination’ faced because a workplace is being non-discriminatory to an oppressed minority… is a very uncomfortable parallel with white male fragility.

                  It’s like that parallel about pool access and how equality feels like discrimination to the one with all the privilege.

                8. Thursday Next*

                  @SpecialK9 Not being Jewish doesn’t necessarily mean one is in the majority. Rhetoric like this erases those of us who are non-white/from a non-monotheistic religious tradition.

                1. Jesca*

                  Right, or washing dairy off your hands in the sink used to wash meat and meat utensiles? Keeping Kosher is complicated, and by no means easy for everyone to remember all the time. One thoughtless move renders a Kosher kitchen non-Kosher anymore.

                  This is a tough situation.

                2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  Why would you have bacon grease on your hands if you’re not allowed to bring in any food or any dishware/utensils, though?

                  I’m extremely sympathetic to how difficult it is to keep kosher. I’m honestly not trying to play devil’s advocate or argue that all people who do not keep kosher must be allowed in a kosher kitchen.

                  I’m just trying to figure out if there’s a way to limit the activities or conduct, instead of barring “non-kosher people,” because I think it may make OP’s situation easier to navigate from an antidiscrimination law perspective. The second kitchen is also very helpful for trying to thread the legal needle.

                3. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish*

                  And then what? The next user of the bacon sink is swiftly whisked off to Hell?

                4. Margali*

                  >I think a simpler solution might be to change the tone but not the intent of the sign, something like, “This kitchen is kept strictly kosher. If you do not keep kosher, we kindly request that you use the main kitchen. Thank you!” I think perhaps the negative reaction to the sign is more a reaction to being “yelled at.”

                  This sounds smart, Peachie.

                5. Rusty Shackelford*

                  And then what? The next user of the bacon sink is swiftly whisked off to Hell?

                  @Fergus, did you mean to sound like you were mocking people who choose to keep kosher?

                6. Chinook*

                  Fergus, your comment, maybe even meant jokingly, is an example of why the kosher kitchen is locked up. If you don’t understand why it is important, odds are you won’t respect the rules (Which seems to be true in general
                  For example, speeders often don’t think going over the limit is an issue because they think the rules are too stupid or that they have better reflexes than the average person).

                7. AsItIs*

                  @Fergus. Realize you are just being flippant, but the reality is nothing will happen. People will be upset, very upset, and I imagine lots of cleaning and bleach would be involved. But as to something bad happening…? Not going to happen.

              2. Rusty Shackelford*

                It seems like the appropriate use of a kosher kitchen for non-kosher people would be so limited that it wouldn’t provide enough benefit to be worth the risk to the kosher people.

              3. Nita*

                As far as I understand, even if people don’t bring in their own utensils and food, they can make the kitchen non-kosher if they are not familiar with the rules. For example, these rules require separate dishes for milk and meat products. If you borrow a cup from the “meat” dish set to make yourself coffee with milk, the cup is no longer considered “kosher.” If you start mixing up dishes that are stored in the kosher kitchen and the main kitchen, same thing. If you grab utensils from the “dairy” drawer and put them back in the “meat” drawer, same thing. Making these OK to use again is a bit of a pain – I think it involves boiling them in hot water to remove even tiny food residue. I’m not sure if a dishwasher would do.

                Most of the requirements are not super difficult to keep in mind if you’re used to them, but if you’re not, you can ruin the entire kitchen for those to whom it does matter. That seems totally unnecessary given that there is a second kitchen that’s open to all.

                However, IANAL and I don’t know if keeping the kosher kitchen access restricted is any kind of legal problem.

                1. Wtf?*

                  Am I the only one who thinks it’s a little nuts that one group of religious people are able to insist on such stringent expectations in the workplace for something they’re choosing to abide by? I’m vegan and that is my strongly held moral belief, yet it’d be absurd to insist our work kitchen become vegan only because I don’t want to use utensils that were used with a non vegan product.

                  The solution is for the kosher people to bring their own food storage solution if they’re that concerned about contamination, such as an ice box, and keep their items away from the kitchen unless they’re willing to compromise and share the space. Not to essentially ban people from a protected class (any religion but Jewish) from using the work kitchen. There’s religious accommodations, and then there’s just a weird level of pandering that seems bizarre and wouldn’t be accepted from many other groups.

                2. LizB*

                  @Wtf?: It would be nuts for a group of people to insist on such stringent expectations if the workplace just had two regular kitchens and the employees had decided on their own that one should be kosher. But it sounds like the workplace has decided that they’re committed to designating one of their kitchens as kosher — and since they have, they need to have stringent expectations for the use of that kitchen if they want that designation to have any real meaning. It’s a benefit they’ve decided they want to provide for a group of employees, and if they didn’t regulate the use of the room, they wouldn’t actually be providing the benefit.

                3. tigerlily*

                  @WTF, they have two kitchens for this very purpose. One is for kosher employees, the other for non kosher employees.

                4. AMPG*

                  Right. When I was in college, one of the campus houses had a kosher kitchen, and they ended up having to donate a bunch of their pots and pans at the end of the year because people had mixed up the milk and meat sets, and the way those pots were made* meant that they couldn’t be re-kashered. It’s easy to see how this sort of thing could become a huge burden for the company.

                  *It had something to do with having too many pieces riveted together to form the pot – I don’t remember the details, but at the time I found it very interesting.

                5. Millennial Lawyer*

                  @Wtf?: So… your analogy with veganism is not really applicable. If I leave egg salad into a “vegan” refrigerator it can be corrected – someone can throw it out or tell me it can’t happen again without any real expense. If someone introduces something non kosher into a kosher designated area, depending on the level of kosher we’re talking, it can completely undermine the kosherness of the area, and a Rabbi has to come in (paid) to double check everything… it’s literally a mess. Also veganism is a moral/ethical choice, but people who keep kosher believe it is literally a commandment from G-d. It’s not a choice to them.

                6. Delphine*

                  @Wtf?: I think it’d be pandering if they offered this accommodation and then didn’t actually do whatever was necessary to make sure the kitchen stayed kosher. They’ve offered this perk for their employees who keep kosher, now they have to follow through, otherwise it’s just a second kitchen.

                7. Ramona Flowers*

                  @Wtf your misunderstanding of / attitude to the nature of keeping kosher – this stuff isn’t pandering, to those who believe in it it’s not optional – kind of perfectly illustrates why access to the kitchen might need to be restricted.

              4. Penny Lane*

                If my workplace sets up a pumping room for new mothers, it seems to me that they could restrict access to those new mothers (by requiring a key, passcode, etc.) and that’s not really discriminatory just because not-nursing women and men couldn’t enter. They have no need of those facilities, so there’s nothing discriminatory. In this case, it’s not as though the non-kosher people are being deprived of a kitchen, sink, microwave, etc. – they have full access to these things.

                1. Samiratou*

                  I would agree with this, but I’m not a discrimination lawyer.

                  As a non-Jewish person, it wouldn’t bother me one whit if there were a kosher kitchen behind a keycode accessible only by those who keep kosher, assuming there was a non-kosher kitchen with the usual amenities.

                  If they put the only microwave in the kosher kitchen, that would be a problem, but that doesn’t sound like the case here.

                  But again, not a lawyer, and I know there are certainly people out there who might make a stink of it just because they could. I would also suspect those are also the type of people who would be more likely to treif the kitchen (intentionally or otherwise).

              5. Anna*

                The flip of that is that it’s an accommodation for kosher employees. If there are two kitchens, wouldn’t it have MORE impact on the employees who keep kosher to let non-kosher people use it than to restrict the use of the kosher kitchen to only kosher people?

              6. Specialk9*

                I don’t really get the arguments of discrimination for the people who have one kitchen already and want to have ALL the kitchens and in so doing make sure that people of a certain religion don’t get any kitchen access at all. How is that not classic religion discrimination, and sheer selfishness to boot?

                I’m a liberal non-kosher keeping Jew who thinks Orthodox Jews should get to eat too. Quaint of me, I know. I’m kind of appalled by all the people who think equality isn’t enough, you need to have it all and they get none because they are religious. “But I really WANT to stomp around in their kitchen and you can’t stop me! Don’t oppress me by making me share ANY of my toys! Racist!”

                Folks, seriously, not a good look.

            2. Sylvan*

              I agree, and I think that the effect might be that non-observant people don’t use that kitchen and/or that people who do keep kosher stop using it because they aren’t sure they can count on it.

              (I would not use that kitchen. It’s easier to stick to one kitchen than it is to rework my eating habits, and I would rather not disrupt coworkers’ religious observances with my slip-ups.)

              1. TL -*

                This! I think if bosses/management make it quite clear that no non-Kosher food or drink is to ever enter the Kosher kitchen (and being really clear that non-Kosher is much more complicated than don’t eat cheeseburgers) and that there are serious consequences for ignoring that role, people will respect it. And the kitchen will still be available for everything else people use the kitchens for – washing hands, resting quietly for a minute, reading or skyping if it’s an open-plan office, having a conversation that needs to be somewhere semi-private….

                1. JessaB*

                  But it’s not just bringing in food. If they use the Kosher food but put meat on the milchig plates, or put a plate that had a Kosher chicken sandwich in the milchig dish bin. It’s not just the food, it’s every single utensil, shelving in the pantries and in the fridge, it’s you can’t use that milchig spoon in your chicken soup. Every single item and surface in that kitchen is separated milk from meat, and worse even for Passover. Even bringing in NOTHING, if you don’t understand Kashrut, every item you touch becomes a problem because you do not know the limitations.

                  The rule would be you are not allowed to touch anything. Don’t wash your hands of chicken in the milk dish area. You can’t use these utensils or pots for this or that. It’s Passover, we don’t have Pesach stuff so it’s all done on paper plates, no the blue is milchig and the red is fleishig and NOT the other way around.

                  Kosher is so much more than no pork or shellfish and don’t mix milk and meat generally.

                2. TL -*

                  Right, I understand that, but if I’m not bringing food into a kitchen, why would I be touching anything food related?
                  If I’m in a work kitchen and I don’t have food, I’m not utilizing any of the kitchen bits. I’m usually sitting or chatting or reading AAM on my phone.

                  (And I presume that if the rules about what dishes go where are so strict, in a communal kitchen people will be good about cleaning up after themselves so that things go in their proper places.)

                3. BethRA*

                  “(And I presume that if the rules about what dishes go where are so strict, in a communal kitchen people will be good about cleaning up after themselves so that things go in their proper places.)”

                  Given how hard it is to get people to be ‘good about cleaning up after themselves’ in ANY communal kitchen, I wouldn’t presume this at all.

                4. sam*

                  ““(And I presume that if the rules about what dishes go where are so strict, in a communal kitchen people will be good about cleaning up after themselves so that things go in their proper places.)”

                  Given how hard it is to get people to be ‘good about cleaning up after themselves’ in ANY communal kitchen, I wouldn’t presume this at all.”

                  I was going to note the exact same thing. Anyone who as ever worked in an office with more than…one person…has had to deal with someone who can’t comprehend basic rules about existing in spaces with other people.

                  (as I sit here thinking about putting up ANOTHER sign in our bathroom about the mystery person who uses multiple seat covers at once and then…leaves them behind).

                5. Anion*

                  Second Jessa B. I had/have a friend who is kosher; I once decided to bake him a loaf of challah, and bought all new utensils, bowl, and baking sheet for that purpose. It’s really not as simple as just “no cheeseburgers.”

                6. Im not a lawyer but...*

                  There are also laws regarding kosher food, especially meat, being unsupervised. Have you ever been on an airplane next to someone who ordered a kosher meal? Did you ever notice that everything is double and sometimes triple wrapped and sealed in shrink wrap? As long as those seals are kept closed the passenger can get up from their seat, do what they need to do and then return to their meal, unseal it and eat. However for many observant kosher jews, if they break the seal and then have to leave their seat (without another jew to watch over the unsealed meal) they will probably not eat the meal when they return. Extreme? yes but keep in mind most people do not bring professionally sealed meals to the work place….

                  If all things are equal between both kitchens one would hope that this is sufficient but this is 2018……

                7. whingedrinking*

                  @ TL: My roommates and I can’t even agree on which drawer the cheese grater belongs in, or get everyone to follow the rules for compost/garbage/recycling. I don’t let any of my stuff that I’m truly attached to into general circulation, because even with the best of intentions, I worry that someone will forget that my knives do NOT go in the dishwasher. (With the worst of intentions? One of my roomies once had a pair of high-quality sewing scissors ruined because the new guy lost his room key and tried to pick the lock with them.)

                8. Nita*

                  @ whingedrinking: exactly! People have a hard time following “rules” that to them, seem optional and not terribly important. I’ve had a fair share of dishes ruined by being put through a dishwasher, and clothes ruined by being put in the dryer, despite saying (several times) that I’ll handle them separately. Now I rush to wash the more fragile dishes the second I’m done with them, before some well-meaning helper can stick them in the washer. And if I’m not the one doing the laundry, I hide non-laundry-safe clothes in odd places so they don’t get thrown in. The consequences of hoping someone else will remember that my stuff needs special handling are kind of expensive.

              2. Elizabeth West*

                Same. I’d be fine with it. It’s unnecessary, since I have a kitchen to use. I’d feel awful if I messed it up and they had to throw everything out or spend extra time making it kosher again.

                If the company installed one of those seats that whisks people who can’t walk up the stairs, it’s no skin off my nose if I’m asked not to use it–it’s their accommodation. I can get there just fine on the stairs. The upper floors aren’t restricted to only the seat users.

            3. nonymous*

              why not both? put a code on the door and require training to use the room. This is no different than saying that anyone with a key to the building needs to know proper open/close procedures. From my understanding, there are multiple levels of kosher that one might practice, so it’s probably informative even to the practicing staff to what degree they need to be observant. I’d also suggest refresher training just before Passover, as well.

              Regarding the careless types, I find that it is easier to create easy opportunities (e.g. make sure the non-kosher kitchen is clean/large enough) for people to do the right thing vs. policing folks. In dog and kid training, the resonant phrase is “set them up for success”.

          2. Rachel01*

            2. Restricting access to a kosher kitchen

            Someone is going have to explain to me what is a “kosher kitchen”? If I was hired by an employer and was told that I couldn’t use the kitchen, refrigerator because I wasn’t kosher? I would be extremely insulted. Please clarify — are there two separate kitchens offering the same equipment & space, etc.?
            The “Stop Do NOT Enter. Kosher Access to Authorized Kosher Coworkers Only” would be a turnoff and I would feel discriminated against.
            If the two different kitchens had the same equipment … make one kosher and the other not. But if the kosher kitchen had a dishwasher & large refrigerator; and the non-kosher kitchen was just a sink & microwave it could be as discriminating against individuals that do not have the same faith as the employer.
            Isn’t the 25 or more employees bring in different regulations & expectations of equal rights & treatment?

            1. Anion*

              I’ll see if anyone Jewish wants to provide a better explanation, but just in case, a kosher kitchen is, basically, a kitchen where all dairy and meat are kept separate, and anything that touches dairy is kept separate from anything that touches meat. Like, you have plates/bowls/pots/utensils for dairy foods and plates/bowls/pots/utensils for meat foods. You can’t and shouldn’t use–as Jessa B. said above–a spoon that was used to stir or eat chicken soup in a glass of milk or bowl of cereal.

              1. Specialk9*

                @rachel01, yes there are two kitchens. I agree that the sign should be wordsmithed.

                But also, I’m guessing you’re either Christian, or at least Christianish by culture – it’s really hard to realize the incredible privilege of being Christian in Western cultures until you step out of that, and then realize how thoroughly stacked the deck is toward everything Christian. The reactions of people here reflect that – so many are outraged that they might get excluded. But that’s our non-Christian everyday reality, and we’re expected to suck it up. Why the double standard?

            2. Someone else*

              Rachel01, this: If the two different kitchens had the same equipment … make one kosher and the other not. sounds like exactly what this company has.

              If you do a quick google search, or even just read the other comments here, you should get a decent sense of what a kosher kitchen is: basically a kitchen that conforms to all Jewish dietary restriction laws. Separate dishes, utensils, cooking equipment, appliances for different types of food, which are not allowed to co-mingle, as well as any non-kosher food is not allowed in the space at all, let alone allowed to touch anything in there. In fact, your initial comment is exactly why having two kitchens, and restricting one to people who do keep kosher becomes a sensible idea. If you don’t even know what kosher is, then you’re very likely to accidentally contaminate the entire space.

            3. Ahahaha*

              I had to laugh, that level of indignation “I’m not kosher?!” is pretty dang funny. If you’re not Jewish, and you don’t keep kosher, then no, you’re not. Not really any different from anywhere else you’re restricted… the other gender’s locker room for instance, someone else’s office. Take the outrage down a few notches.

              1. STG*

                There’s a pretty big difference because it’s religious in nature. It’s not the same as an office or locker room.

                1. Ahahaha*

                  Its really not though- the outrage level is over the top. No, you’re not kosher because you don’t keep kosher. You get to use the non-kosher kitchen. Problem solved. To be SO OFFENDED because a religious group practices differently then you is just… looking for reasons to be offended, IMO. If it was the only kitchen, different discussion. But it’s not. There are places at my work I’m not allowed to go because I’m not trained on the proper precautions. I don’t get all flouncy “ARE YOU CALLING ME STUPID/UNTRAINED/ILLITERATE?!”. But to each their own.

                2. STG*

                  It really is different though. I have no personal issue with using the non-kosher kitchen. If it wasn’t an option and I was expected to eat out or not bring lunch because of someone else’s religion, I’d have a much bigger issue with it. I can see a number of other possibilities that could cause issues even with the second kitchen though (different sizes, different appliances, one is buried in a storage room outside the building, etc).

            4. Lissa*

              Would you be outraged if you were restricted from using certain chairs that were for people who required mobility aids? What about people getting time off for religious holidays? IMO this is an accommodation, not discrimination.

              If there’s bad equipment in the non-kosher kitchen that’s not cool but I don’t see any reason to believe that’s the case. I don’t know, people seem to be *really* going out of their way to be offended by not being allowed to go into both kitchens.

              1. Ahahaha*

                Exactly. If the ratio is bad in the non-kosher kitchen, ask for a second microwave. But otherwise, you’re not kosher. Kosher kitchen doesn’t apply to you. Move along.

              2. TL -*

                For me, it’s not the “not being allowed to use the *kitchen* aspect” – it’s being banned from the social aspect, or not being able to pop my head in to ask Bob if he has a quick minute to talk or use it for a private meeting space. I’m really okay with non-kosher employees not being able to bring food/drinks in/touch anything that’s used for food or food prep.

                But in nearly every place I’ve worked, the kitchen has been the communal space that’s used for eating, short breaks, quiet 2 or 3 person meetings, socializing, a place to decompress if you need 15 minutes, a Skype or phone call room for short personal calls… If both kitchens are set up as communal areas and the bosses/certain employees only use one area, and that area is restricted to non-kosher employees, that’s where it seems restrictive for the non-kosher employees.

                1. Klew*

                  I’m really okay with non-kosher employees not being able to bring food/drinks in/touch anything that’s used for food or food prep.

                  But do you honestly think that would be the case? There would at least one employee who wouldn’t see the big deal about eating a sandwich at the table or using a cup or plate or storing their food in the fridge of the kosher kitchen.

                  This letter is about this specific business with this specific set up. Phone calls, meetings, breaks…none of those things were mentioned by the OP as a problem. It was just the fact that this kitchen is off limits. If a business has a kitchen it almost always has just one kitchen and they get by with the one. The fact that this business has two doesn’t change the fact that there is still one available for whatever the heck they use their kitchen for.

            5. zora*

              Yes, if you read the letter carefully, they have two full kitchens. One is for everyone, one is designated as strictly kosher, which means everything has to be used in accordance with strict religious rules.

          3. Someone else*

            It strikes me the opposite. If you don’t know if all the people have an actual detailed understanding of kashrut, it’s much easier to say “don’t go in there” than it is to explain to those people in detail what is or isn’t allowed. I don’t know about the legality, but as soon as I read it, my instrinct was “yeah because that’s absolutely the easiest way to ensure the kosher kitchen isn’t contaminated”. Basically, unless they’re absolutely sure you understand the (sometimes fairly complicated) rules, you don’t get to go in there because you might mess it up for everyone else.

        2. INTP*

          If this is the case, I think the best course of action would be to make sure that the non-kosher people have adequate space and supplies in their own kitchen. Most people don’t want to violate someone else’s religious requirement for no reason, and if they do so, it’s probably because they didn’t have enough space in the other refrigerator or the line for the microwave is too long or something. (Not saying they’d be justified to use the kosher kitchen, that’s just the most likely reason why someone would.)

          If there are concerns, make sure that there is adequate fridge/counter space in the non-kosher kitchen, and add additional refrigerators, microwaves, coffee makers, etc. (or allow people to expense these items for their offices/cubes) if needed. If 2/3 of the company is dealing with an extra crowded kitchen and the response is to put a lock on the door of the other one, that might not go over well.

          1. Smithy*

            If the aim is to keep the kitchen kosher – this is the only way. If the other kitchen now has a fridge that’s too crowded, not enough mugs/forks/etc, not enough space to sit – then address this. Make a new non kosher kitchen.

            I lived in Israel for 5 years, and the rules around kashrut are just so involved that there’s no easy way to open up the kitchen. Just someone getting a kosher mug and putting a nonkosher tea bag in it could be a problem for some.

            Making more non kosher kitchen space is the way to go, otherwise the rules posted would be so long that it would be as aggressive as “only kosher people allowed”.

            1. Mabel*

              I lived with two people who kept separate dishes, pots and pans, cooking utensils, etc. for meat, dairy, and neutral foods. I lived with them and paid attention to this for every meal, and I still made mistakes. I don’t think it’s realistic to assume the kitchen would stay kosher if non-kosher-keeping folks were using it at all. I also agree with some commenters that it’s important that the non-kosher kitchen be just as clean, useful, spacious, etc. as the kosher kitchen if you want to avoid resentment.

          2. EddieSherbert*

            This is my thought. I would be fine with my kosher coworkers having their own space I am not allowed to use – as long as it isn’t nicer, better stocked, or (since it sounds like there are less kosher team members than non-kosher?) bigger than my space.

            Like, I’d be upset if they have a legit kitchen and everyone else has a mini fridge + coffee maker in the hallway and is washing their dishes in the bathroom sink!

            1. INTP*

              Exactly, if everything else about the kitchens were equal, I wouldn’t *want* access to the kosher kitchen – why learn a complicated set of rules and still have to fear making a mistake? But if I had to use an overcrowded or dirty kitchen while there was a roomier (for the amount of people using it) and cleaner kitchen literally locked off for practitioners of the owner’s religion to share, I could see myself getting resentful.

          3. Blue*

            I think this is really the key! Personally, I would be very happy to avoid the kosher space – even with researching and making a serious effort, the odds of messing up are too high – but if I had to wait for ages to get to a microwave or sink and they didn’t, I could see being annoyed by that. (To be clear, I still wouldn’t begrudge them use of a separate kitchen, but I would probably be irritated with my company for not adequately dealing with the situation.)

          4. Temperance*

            I’m not religious, and generally speaking, I won’t violate anyone else’s religious requirements so long as those requirements don’t require any effort from me and so long as they aren’t violating my rights. So I might say “holy shit” or “oh my god” in front of a person who considers that blasphemy.

            I won’t mess up a kosher kitchen, though. Other people’s religious food needs have no impact on my life.

        3. Oranges*

          Not to mention if they keep kosher as seperations between meat and dairy. I had a Jewish friend in high school and she kindly explained what keeping kosher meant to her. I can still remember my surprise about meat prep items are here, dairy prep item are there and there’s food that’s neither that can be manipulated/stored with either set of dishes/pots/etc.

      2. Mrs Kate*

        Hmmm. What about giving access to the kitchen to all, but locking it and requiring anyone wanting access to get the code?

        Then you could get the code + a list of kosher protocol and agree to follow it.

        Then you are not restricting use to people who keep keep kosher, but to people that are agreeing to keep the kitchen kosher. It also rules out people just popping in to use the kitchen willy-nilly, but allows Jane who doesn’t keep kosher but who sits right next to the kitchen and agrees not to store ham to use the facility.

        Kind of like allowing all kids to bring in lunch from home if they agree to follow allergy guidelines at school.

        1. CoveredInBees*

          In the case of bringing food from home, they wouldn’t be able to really use the kitchen much unless they kept a kosher kitchen at home as well. Sure, they could store cold food in the fridge but would have to do any washing up in another kitchen or with a separate sponge with a separate washing tub in the sink. It is far beyond not storing ham.

          1. I'll come up with a clever name later.*

            But isn’t there another non-kosher kitchen on the premises? I think the key code after they’ve read, agreed, and signed an agreement to keep that kitchen kosher before getting access is reasonable. I’ve done some reading about what being kosher is and it’s actually quite complicated for those not familiar with it. I can imagine that someone who wanted access to the kitchen might rethink that once they realize that it’s very easy for those who don’t know the rules to contaminate it. The company isn’t denying access to a kitchen based on what I read, just access to one specific kitchen and that is because of religious reasons.

            1. Someone else*

              I think part of the issue is…once someone who doesn’t keep kosher reads all those rules they’d have to abide by: they’re going to come to realize there’s virtually nothing they can do in that kosher kitchen without breaking the rules. So then you’re in a position of: A) did they even really read all that? and B) are they really going to follow it?
              This isn’t just like, well you broke a rule and now you’re in trouble and you can’t say you didn’t know cuz you signed this thing. Someone who breaks that rule means you have pay a rabbi to come in and re-kosher the space, some items might need to be thrown out and replaced if they can’t be re-koshered, it turns into a potential HUGE expense every time someone decides it wasn’t a big deal if they broke the rule. It’s a really big risk. Conscientious people who would really truly follow the rules are probably going to end up almost never using that kitchen anyway because it’s so restrictive.
              Again, I’m not commenting on the legality. I’m not a lawyer, and the separate kitchens may run afoul of discrimentation laws. But from a regular-person-logical standpoint, it’s 100x easier to say “just don’t go in there” than it is to educate someone on the rules that they personally have no intention of following in their lives, and trust them to abide by it. It’s

              1. CubicleShroom#1004*

                It is really a PITA to rekosher a kitchen when someone makes a mistake.

                One friend mixed up dairy and meat pots and utensils at a kosher deli. $20K to sort it all out. Some machines had to be sold because they couldn’t be properly koshered.

                The bonus round is the deli lost their kosher certificate because the whole prep room was deemed unfit. More $$$ walking out the door.

                Getting Rabbis to reissue certificates is NOT cheap.

                For my Lubavitcher friends, I don’t even go into their kitchen. I’ve kept a kosher kitchen, but with that level of observance, I don’t want to be held responsible.

    2. Artemesia*

      They assume that those who don’t keep kosher might prepare food in the kitchen which would render it unusable. What reason would there be for a non-Kosher keeping employee to be in that kitchen? Kitchens are for making food; there is a kitchen for general use; why not keep the Kosher kitchen locked? When there are nursing rooms for mothers at work, they do not need to be available to everyone who say, might want to make a private phone call, or nap or whatever; why would a special use kitchen for particular people who keep Kosher be any different? It is not as if there is no other kitchen for their use.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        But then how do you actually police that? How do you verify who is really keeping kosher? That’s where it gets tricky for me.

        1. Natalie*

          Or people keeping it to different levels. Like pretty much all religious strictures, not everyone observes them identically.

        2. KHB*

          Are you worried about honest differences of opinion/interpretation, or about people lying and saying they keep kosher when they don’t just so they can have access to the kosher kitchen? I don’t know enough to comment on the former (though I suspect it’s something the employers have thought about already). The latter I don’t think is something you could get away with for long in a company that small, and I don’t think it would occur to most people to even try.

        3. Millennial Lawyer*

          I think the most common sense thing would to have an honor system where you have to affirmatively request access to the kosher kitchen for your kosher products.

      2. TL -*

        If the Kosher employees were banned from going into the non-Kosher kitchen, I think that would strike most people as deeply discriminatory. It’s still legally discrimination if it goes the other way – separate but equal is not allowed.

        A pumping room is more like a bathroom – since it’s a biological function that needs to be done in private, it makes sense to provide a restricted access space without it being inherently discriminatory. It’s not so much about the gender of the people doing it as it is the nature of the thing being done. If men had to collect secreted liquids from their body, I’m sure they would be legally assured a private space for doing so.

        1. Artemesia*

          Well then why can’t I fry my bacon in the Kosher kitchen; isn’t it discriminating against me having the less used kitchen for my convenience and on religious grounds? With lots of people, I don’t see how you keep it Kosher without making it off limits except for prep of kosher food. And one way to do that is to require a key from the admin or something when food is to be prepared.

          1. TL -*

            No, you can say “This kitchen is only for preparation of Kosher food” without saying “This kitchen is only for (observant) Jews.”

            It’s like saying, “this kitchen is only for gluten-free food” – anyone can use it, they just can’t eat bread in it.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Right, exactly that — it’s fine to say “this kitchen is only for kosher food and kosher food prep” but it’s not okay to see “only kosher people can come in here.”

              1. snow-in-the-desert*

                I mean… I would guess that part of the issue here is that, from _some_ conservative people’s point of view, it is, in fact, actually threatening to the status of a non-kosher kitchen to have “non-kosher people” come into it.

                (The conscious rationale is, I think, that people who don’t observe kashrut at all times are likely to be carrying particles of treif (non-kosher) food on their clothing or bodies. This may sound like an extreme and unwarranted concern. But people’s feelings and observations around religion are not always governed by cool, modern logic. There may also be underlying, though probably uncomfortable, elements of in-group/ out-group feeling surrounding the religion-adjacent, semi-“sacred,” in-group Jewish space of an Officially Kosher Kitchen.)

                That said, Alison is completely correct that this is a situation in which, even if some people do have deeply held religious beliefs regarding this matter, it would still wind up infringing on other people’s rights/ discriminating against other people in a way that is not allowed by U.S. labor culture and law. So someone has to compromise, and in this case it will have to be the company.

                (Context: I grew up kosher, though not Orthodox, in an Orthodox- and Haredi-adjacent Jewish household. I currently live in a theocratic country with a related religion, in which there are in fact different ideas about “purity” relating to people depending on religion and ethnicity. None of which would fly in the U.S. — but what I’m trying to get at is that the cultural and religious nuances in situations like this are, in fact, often non-Western in origin*, which can lead to uncomfortable confusion in trying to frame the issues at hand.)

                (*Interestingly, a statement that describes all three Abrahamic religions!)

                1. Tuesday Next*

                  I keep kosher and am part of an orthodox community. I don’t know anyone who worries about particles of treif on someone’s clothing or considers their kitchen to be a sacred space. It’s a purely practical requirement to be able to prepare kosher food. There’s no mumbo jumbo about it.

                2. Penny Lane*

                  I have absolutely never heard of the concept that a kosher kitchen is a “sacred space” or that the mere presence of a non-Jew or a Jew who is not kosher-observant invalidates the space in some way. I’d like to see a reputable source that suggests that this is a real concern among strict kosher-observant Jews.

                3. Jesca*

                  No. This does not happen. I have never met one person who observe kashrut feeling this way. They don’t treat non-kosher people like lepers! I have a lot of Orthodox Jewish friends. I have hosted them in my non-kosher house. Hell, my ex was an Orthodox Jew. Never ever haha would that be a thing. If it were a thing, then they would never be able to buy Kosher food from a non-kosher grocery store. And that would mean that the companies making 60% of their prepackaged food Kosher would be pretty much wasting there time!

              2. JessaB*

                Yes but how do you make sure that people who do not keep Kosher understand what the rules of food prep ARE. Even if they bring in Kosher food, they can’t put the milchig plates in the fleishig dish washing tub. People who do not keep Kosher do not know how to make sure they don’t do anything to treyf the entire kitchen.

                1. Detective Amy Santiago*

                  I have no idea what half of the words you used mean, but I completely agree with your main point that people who do not keep Kosher may not understand the rules of keeping Kosher and should avoid the risk of contamination.

              3. MusicWithRocksInIt*

                What if instead only people who had signed a form listing all the rules of the kitchen and agreeing to abide by them were allowed in that kitchen? My work has several areas that you can only have access to if you are trained or if you have signed something for clearance. That way the kosher employees would have access and if it bothered anyone else you could carefully go over the rules with them and have them sign off.

                1. Daniel*

                  Unfortunately, the laws of kosher food are more complicated than anything you can merely sign for or train for.

                  For example, here is an 88-page manual on the kashrut laws for fruits and vegetables alone. It doesn’t include the laws regarding animal products (meats, cheeses, fish, etc.), the laws regarding mixtures of meat and milk, learning to recognize symbols made by kosher certification companies, or even esoterica such as the minimum number of eggs you’re allowed to hard-boil at a time.

                  I’d even compare it to learning an entirely unfamiliar language. If you grow up in Japan, speaking Japanese is effortless; but if I were to try to learn it today, it would take weeks of focused and motivated study to ensure that I won’t commit a serious error in unsupervised conversation. Kashrut is the same; rabbis study the details for *decades* and don’t exhaust the material. And mistakes can have consequences: certain serious errors can render any of the dishes involved (or even a major appliance such as a toaster oven) unusable for 24 hours after the error. In extreme cases, certain items can be rendered permanently non-kosher.

                  Heck, I’ve been living with it my entire life – yet a few years ago I messed up and made my favorite pan irreversibly non-kosher. It’s now my kids’ favorite pretend-kitchen toy. I also have two forks and a knife going through the 24-hour waiting period as I type this, because my 7-year-old daughter made a mistake.

              4. bassoon wielding chemist*

                In lab environments we have some labs that can only be entered by people who have completed specific training (usually there’s some type of specific hazard or controlled substance involved) and then we have badge access to those areas. Could they set up the kitchen in the same manner?

            2. Shira*

              The rules for keeping kosher can get pretty complicated, and it can happen that someone who doesn’t keep kosher themselves does something against the rules without realizing it. This does get into the question, as Ramona Flowers mentioned above, of how to “police” who keeps kosher and who doesn’t.

              1. Ramona Flowers*

                Yes, but I personally mentioned that as a reason not to restrict access to the kitchen, not as a reason TO do it.

            3. Observer*

              In real life, most people who really need to be gluten free are going to be very leery of sharing a kitchen with people who are not used to dealing with this issue. And, tbh, gluten is simpler than kosher (talking from experience here). There is no way, practically speaking to keep a kitchen kosher if people who aren’t committed to and basically knowledgeable of Kosher laws use it.

                1. Lissa*

                  But Observer isn’t saying you don’t understand about Gluten-free, just that Kosher isn’t the same, and is more complicated so I’m not sure how your being gluten-free is relevant here?

                2. TL -*

                  @Lissa because in real life, I know that sharing a kitchen on a gluten free diet means a lot more than not eating bread there and indeed I don’t trust a lot of kitchens. It was a brief analogy not a perfect example.

                3. TL -*

                  @Observer – right, it’s complicated. I have my own little set up in most kitchens I share and the rule is that nobody but me touches my space or my stuff.

                  But then people don’t touch it. I find that especially once it’s out of sight, people are unlikely to grab it – they might grab something left out, intending to wash and put it back (this has only happened with one roommate but he ruined the pan), but if I have a closed door, then that reinforces the “oh no can’t use” without needing to lock it away.

                  That’s why I think a closed door on the kosher kitchen would still let people pop their heads in or use it as a communal/break room if needed but reinforce the no food/drink in/no utensils out rules. (Assuming non-kosher kitchen is adequately maintained and stocked.) I don’t think this would work if the two kitchens were open concept, but assuming closed off kitchens, lacking any other evidence, I’d say people would generally stop thinking of kosher kitchen as a “food” place.

            4. Gaia*

              Exactly. I do not keep kosher, but it would be okay if I could (in theory) prepare kosher food in that kitchen and not impact the ability of other people that do keep kosher (I think – please correct me if I am wrong). So saying I cannot have access to it because I don’t keep kosher is discriminatory.

              Also, who is to say whether or not I keep kosher? How is that controlled? That gets in to weird territory.

              1. Observer*

                The reality is that you actually cannot realistically be trusted to prepare you food in there without impacting the ability of the kosher keepers to use the kitchen, though. It’s not because you are a bad or stupid person. But it’s complicated and there is no reasonable way you are going to learn everything you need to and put that into practice.

                1. Gaia*

                  You do not know that no one not keeping kosher cannot realistically prepare a kosher meal. They could have studied it extensively. They could have been raised to keep kosher. Hell, they could not be preparing food at all but just going in there to have a quick chat. Banning them from the kitchen is discriminatory and it also opens the company up to policing who is kosher (or kosher “enough” since there are differing levels of “strict” when it comes to kosher).

                2. neverjaunty*

                  Whose kosher, though?

                  I mean, even among people who keep kosher there are varying degrees of strictness and practice. Which authority inspects the kitchen? Would it be OK to exclude some people because their kashrut is not as strict?

                3. Observer*

                  @Gaia In real life the chances of someone who does not keep kosher being both knowledgeable AND committed enough to not mess up the kitchen is essentially non-existent.

                  I understand that you don’t like it, but you are arguing from a position of profound lack of knowledge.

                  The simple fact is that no person who is scrupulous about kosher is going to be able to trust the kosher status of a kitchen where people who don’t keep kosher have free access. It’s that simple. Labs that do work that require any level of precision have much the same rule for much the same reason. You simply don’t make rules based on rare outliers.

                4. nonymous*

                  replying to your comment further down: While I agree that it is highly unlikely that someone who self-identifies as a non-kosher individual has the training/experience necessary to function proficiently in a Kosher kitchen, it is discriminatory to suggest that divide exists solely on the grounds of current religious identity. The accessible approach would be to say that everyone who can demonstrate the skills/understanding necessary to function in a Kosher kitchen be allowed to, regardless of religious affiliation. As many have pointed out, this is an extremely high bar, and frankly I’d be surprised if anyone would take on the project of acquiring these skills just to use the kitchen at work, especially if a perfectly adequate non-Kosher kitchen was down the hall. The key is communicating the amount of skill acquisition required, which the general public is mostly clueless about, and to provide easier alternative that meets their needs.

                  As an anecdote, I have an acquaintance who grew up Hasidic, and is now married to a Episcopalian. When his parents come to visit, they clean out the kitchen and bring out timers for Sabbath, etc. By all accounts, his wife enjoys a warm relationship with her in-laws and prepares meals with them (they come out for Passover every few years so the grandkids can have cultural immersion), so that tiny cohort does exist.

                5. Lora*

                  Seconded. It’s really, really really really complicated. And painfully easy to screw up. I’m not even remotely Jewish or Muslim, but I’ve seen Orthodox friends cooking meals. It’s not like avoiding allergens, if something is contaminated it goes through a whole ordeal with a special Rabbi coming to re-consecrate the dishes and stuff.

                  In my job we institute engineering controls if any process is that complicated, because we KNOW humans will mess it all up. If you told me that a facility had to make two different products, and one process is much more complicated and can only be carried out by trained staff, and the easy process could readily contaminate the complicated process, I’d have you do a complete product clearance and cleaning to the highest level possible between products, plus insist on record-keeping and a witness confirming that the cook did everything correctly.

              2. CoveredInBees*

                Once you heat up non-kosher food in the microwave/toaster/etc or wash off utensils that were used for non-kosher food, then you treif up (make un-kosher) the kitchen. So, that’s pretty limited.

              3. A.*

                I agree. Also if the Kosher kitchen is perceived as cleaner or has nicer stuff and non Kosher people were banned, I could see that getting further into weird territory.

                1. Aunt Vixen*

                  perceived as cleaner

                  How come the plague never seems to affect the Jewish ghetto? No fair! I want to live there!

                  … said no European Gentile in the 14th century.

              4. Penny Lane*

                It would only be discrimination if only the kosher-observant people had access to an oven, stove, running water, microwave, etc. and those who weren’t had to make do with … I don’t know, the bathroom sink or something. Then you would be being “punished” (for lack of a better term) for not keeping kosher. In this case, you – the non-kosher person – have exactly the same “things” as the kosher person – the oven, the stove, the running water, the dishwasher, whatever.

              5. Dove*

                “You do not know that no one not keeping kosher cannot realistically prepare a kosher meal.”

                On the one hand, I can see your argument here. But on the other hand, I am vividly reminded of the stark difference between how my mother keeps kosher, how my grandmother keeps kosher, and how my great-aunt kept kosher. My mother just tries to avoid mixing meat and dairy, and doesn’t allow non-kosher foods into her kitchen. My grandmother is stricter and does not mix meat and dairy at all, or take chances that she might. My great-aunt had her kitchen set up so that she could keep strict separation between milk and meat, with meat not permitted to even touch the plates or cookware meant for dairy.

                If I had attempted to cook in my great-aunt’s kitchen the same way I would have in my mother’s kitchen, I would have *horrified* my great-aunt and made it necessary for her to have the utensils I used and the kitchen cleaned and put back into order to make it kosher again.

                Breaking strict kosher by accident can be very, very easy and I don’t feel that making the kitchen off-limits for the use of people who aren’t keeping kosher is meaningfully different from making it off-limits to people who don’t require a cooking space that is gluten-free. The problem isn’t in the desire to prevent accidental (or deliberate) contamination, it’s in how this is getting conveyed and put into action.

            5. Sylvan*

              It sounds like the result of “this kitchen is only for preparation of kosher food” is “this kitchen is only for observant Jews.” In order to use that kitchen, you have to participate in a religious observance.

              1. tigerlily*

                To me it sounds more like observant Jews were unable to use the regular kitchen due to their participation in a religious observance, and so the company has provided an accommodation for them.

              2. Specialk9*

                So you’re against religious accomodations because they only apply to certain religions? (Head cock in confusion) So… I’m assuming you pull people out of wheelchairs because they discriminate against the able bodied, and ban deaf interpreters because dangit some people can hear?

                Do you understand what accommodations are? And the difference between historically oppressed minorities and the majority?

                1. Lalaroo*

                  Your examples are not analogous, though, unless you also are saying that able-bodied people are not allowed to use wheelchairs and hearing people are not allowed to look at ASL interpreters.

          2. Lars the Real Girl*

            No, it’s not discriminating against you unless bacon is a religious belief. (Which…well…you decide). In which case they would just need to offer you ample space to do it, but not necessarily in the Kosher kitchen.

            Another person’s religious (or other) accommodation doesn’t mean that everyone who then doesn’t have it is being discriminated against.

          3. Wintermute*

            They can’t stop you from doing that legally however they then could (and in fact may be legally obligated) to fire you for harasment.

            You cannot discriminate based on the status of people and you really can’t get involved with theological debates. The idea that the business has “certified Kosher” associates is a horrifying liability. What happens if a Jewish employee comes in that some other employees feel is insufficiently observant?

          4. LKW*

            Not entirely similar but you can place a ban on nut or peanuts and say “Due to allergy, no nuts can be consumed, prepared, etc through this office and in this kitchen.” The outcomes are certainly different but the logic is similar.

      3. MassMatt*

        I’m afraid your logic is lacking. No one is looking to use the kitchen for phone calls, or breast feeding, they are looking to use a kitchen. As you said, “kitchens are for making food”. The OP mentions that the company has expanded so there are more and more non-kosher employees, they are looking to make their food. There are 2 kitchens, one of them is declared off limits. Perhaps there’s a pile-up at 12pm as non-kosher employees line up in the 1 kitchen wondering why can I not heat up my noodles in the other, empty, kitchen?

        I get that kosher rules are important to adherents, and far more complicated than no pork or shellfish. But people keeping kosher are taking on a burden to adhere to a religious principle, it seems wrong to shift the burden of that principle to others that don’t share the religious view. What would we say to a company that shut kitchens and cafeterias down altogether between sunup and sundown for Ramadan?

        1. TL -*

          That would be okay! What wouldn’t be okay is a company providing dinner for workers before sunset and then not offering their Muslim employees the same dinner after sunset (assuming their hours were 3 pm- midnight.)

          1. Cat*

            I know this is a tangent, but I don’t think that would really be fine, but from either a secular or a religious point of view. The Ramadan fast is supposed to be done with intention; it’s not supposed to be something you force on people. And secularly, don’t force people to adhere to your religion.

            1. TL -*

              Religious standing aside (because, yes I agree this is super unlikely, but it’s not my job to judge how someone practices their religion), it would be okay for the boss to close down at least cafeterias in a secular sense. It would also be okay for a Catholic boss to decide that the cafeteria no longer served meat during Lent.
              It wouldn’t be okay for a boss to forbid his employees to eat – OSHA would probably have something to say about it and I think fasting crosses the line from restricting options to forcing religious practices on people. But as long as his employees still had a decent place to consume food (so kitchen might be pushing it), I think it would be fine.

              1. Sarah*

                Yeah, many workplaces don’t have a cafeteria OR a kitchen, and people seem to get along just fine. You bring a sandwich or eat out or whatever. Sure, it’s less convenient, but it’s not illegal.

              2. Autumnheart*

                IIRC even religions that oblige their adherents to fast still make allowances for people whose health requires that they not fast, and same for eating food in extreme circumstances that is ordinarily forbidden. E.g. if you’re stuck on a desert island and the only food is lobster and pigs, God doesn’t expect you to starve. (Anyone feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.)

                1. SarahTheEntwife*

                  Yes, that’s accurate for Judaism as far as I know. In many circumstances, if it would be dangerous to your health to fast, you’re actually not allowed to in traditional law.

                2. Raine*

                  Catholicism has the same stance. Any instance where one would be expected/mandated to fast is negotiable if it would effect your health.

          2. Jessica*

            I have to disagree with this. If the employer provides food, the employees may choose whether or not to eat it. If you choose not to consume the offered meal (because you’re fasting for Ramadan, you’re on a juice cleanse, you’re allergic to it, you keep kosher, you’re not hungry, or whatever), then that’s fine, but it doesn’t obligate the employer to offer you an alternate meal.
            I’m in the US and I think my state doesn’t require that you even get a lunch break, but where local law demands you get a break to eat, I still don’t think it requires the employer to provide the food.
            If there were Muslim employees and it was Ramadan, it would certainly be a thoughtful and inclusive gesture for the employer to make sure dinner was also available after sunset, but it wouldn’t be illegal not to.

          3. Kate 2*

            But that would create serious difficulties for all their other workers. Including for people with eating-related conditions: anorexia, diabetes, hypoglycemia, etc.

        2. Observer*

          That doesn’t really horrify me. But it’s also a totally different thing. Having a functioning kitchen doesn’t keep people from fasting on Ramadan (or Orthodox Jews from fasting on their fast days.) Messing up the kitchen WILL keep the kosher people from using it.

        3. Lissa*

          The equivalent here would be having two kitchens and one being shut down between sunup and sundown between Ramadan, though, since there is a working kitchen. I think being slightly inconvenienced by a busy kitchen in order to respect someone else’s beliefs is reasonable, and I honestly don’t even think it’d be an inconvenience, as I doubt there would even be two kitchens if there wasn’t an issue with keeping over.

        4. Agent Diane*

          Thinking about your point about non-kosher employees finding their kitchen too small for their needs, is one option to remodel the non-kosher kitchen to factor in the increased amount of people using it? Then the fact the kosher kitchen is off-limits becomes less frustrating and reduces the temptation to use it “because there’s no space”.

          1. Persephone Mulberry*

            Yup, and a complete teardown and remodel might not even be necessary. Unless people are routinely preparing three course meals on their lunch breaks, I bet 75% of the perceived overcrowding could be relieved by adding a second microwave and coffeepot.

        5. AnotherAlison*

          My concern is the OP said the principals keep kosher. Is it possible that this kitchen becomes an informal networking area, rather than just a place to prepare food? If that were the case, I can see where the non-kosher employees feel like they may be missing out on some informal face time with the managers, and since it is due to religious differences, that could be perceived as discriminatory (not necessarily in the legal sense).

          1. Just Allison*

            would it then just be better to call the kosher kitchen, the executive kitchen. Lots of offices have spaces only available to C suite or managers where employees aren’t allowed. That way it doesnt have to do with religion.

            1. Kate 2*

              Yeah, but the fact that certain lower level employees who share a religion with the Big Bosses get to use it and spend extra time in close quarter with them IS a problem. It’s not intentionally discriminatory, but the effect would be the same. I don’t think it would legally be discriminatory, but it does seem to follow legal principles around “disparate impact”.

          2. Marthooh*

            I didn’t think of this!

            It would solve a couple of problems if the kosher kitchen were kept for food storage and food prep ONLY, no tables or chairs. If all food has to be eaten in a cafeteria or in the other kitchen, that makes the kosher kitchen inconvenient to use, and it also won’t be a networking center.

            1. TL -*

              Yes, this I’m totally okay with – a strictly food prep area being off limits is fine; a socialization area being off limits is not as okay.

        6. MusicWithRocksInIt*

          Yea – this has led me to wonder if the non-kosher kitchen has become insufficient to the needs of the growing company and if they need to look into expanding it. If there is no fridge space for people to put their lunch unless they get there early or if they have to wait in line for 10 minutes for a microwave because they only have one, or if they are tripping over each other to get around the kitchen then it is time to find some relief. The best solution to this might be to add another fridge or create a third kitchen area. Especially if most of the people to make that decision use the kosher kitchen and don’t realize what a problem it is because they don’t have to deal with it. That might cause some resentment in the ranks.

        7. Desdemona*

          No, that’s also lacking. Without a provision for kosher employees, they wouldn’t have a reason to have two kitchens, and the non-kosher employees would still have to wait to heat their noodles. Eventually, as the company continues to grow, they may have to add more break rooms, but keeping this one separate doesn’t take anything away from the people to whom this accommodation doesn’t apply.

      4. INTP*

        I actually don’t necessarily think that a locked door would be terribly discriminatory here (in spirit – I don’t know about law), if the realistic alternative is that no kitchen is available to people who are very strict about keeping kosher and can’t risk an accidental contamination. (Yes, people can agree to guidelines, but they are complicated and anyone with a dietary restriction knows that people are often optimistic about how well they understand your requirements.)

        That said, if people are even interested in using the kosher kitchen, there’s likely something inadequate about the regular one. Since around twice as many people are using it, is it too crowded at lunch time, do they run out of space in the fridge, are people not keeping it as clean, etc? If everything else were equal, most people would have no interest in the kosher kitchen. Solve those problems, and you will greatly diminish people wandering into the non-kosher kitchen. If people are dealing with an overly crowded kitchen and the response is to put a lock on the kosher kitchen, that just wouldn’t be a good solution from an employee happiness perspective.

      5. Thursday Next*

        @Artemesia: Of course there could be a reason why a non-kosher employee might want to be in the kosher kitchen. What if I wanted to chat with an coworker who keeps kosher, while she was eating lunch (in this example I’m not eating)? Signage barring entrance to “non-kosher employees” would be off-putting at best. “This kitchen is for the storage, preparation, and consumption of kosher food only” addresses the use of the kitchen, not its users.

        (There’s the additional complication of kosher-observing employees getting more informal face time with the bosses, who keep kosher, but that’s a separate issue.)

        1. Desdemona*

          I imagine signage stating, “This kitchen is for the storage, preparation, and consumption of kosher food only” is fine, while keeping the kitchen locked to prevent accidental contamination. If someone feels they have a reason to be in there, they’re free to bring their case to someone who has access. No problem at all if you’re just there to talk with a friend while she prepares her lunch.

    3. neverjaunty*

      Presumably they aren’t familiar with kashrut and the worry is they’ll do something so the kitchen is no longer kosher. But that can be solved by restricting what food is in that kitchen and educating everyone on do’s and don’ts.

      1. Rachel*

        But the thing is, it’s more than just the food. People that keep strictly kosher use separate utensils, dishes, and cookware for meat and dairy. You can’t put dairy dishes and meat dishes into the same dishwasher, or in the sink at the same time. If there’s a dairy spill in the microwave, the microwave needs to be rekashered before it can be used for meat (and (vice versa). Meat and dairy need to have separate storage areas in the fridge, freezer, and pantry. And then, there are multiple authorities overseeing kosher. And some sects of Judaism don’t accept the authority of some of those overseers. A lot of time, effort, and learning goes into keeping Kosher and I don’t know that it’s reasonable to expect non-Jews to expend that level of effort. Heck, I’m Jewish, but not Orthodox, and I had to look up some of that information.

        1. Mike C.*

          This sounds a great deal like the sort of certification regimes you see in labs or aerospace. And yeah, if you aren’t trained in this, it’s really easy to screw up.

        2. Ramona Flowers*

          In fact it might be helpful to know just what level of kashrut the letter writer keeps (eg glatt).

          1. TL -*

            It would be most helpful if the company defined what kashrut level the kitchen was at (forgive me if I’m not using the terminology correctly) and used that to set the rules for the kitchen.

            “This kitchen is kept kosher by X standards. If you are not familiar with these standards (ex. really complicated law), please do not bring in or prepare food in this kitchen or take anything from this kitchen out. Kitchen A is not kept kosher and is available for use. “

            1. CoveredInBees*

              The problem with that is people looking up a wikipedia article or asking someone they know about kashrut and then that person thinks they know enough. Also, it’s really easy to slip up if you’re not used to it.

          2. Casca*

            Tangent, but just wanted to note that glatt is not a level of kashrut that’s defined in some way. It’s referring to the lungs of the animal being clean and defect-free. So meat that is glatt kosher had defect-free lungs, but there’s no such thing as glatt non-meat products

            (Although perhaps there’s informal usage outside my country)

            1. tchm*

              true, glatt is not a level of kashrut. there aren’t really levels in kashrut. or you follow the Jewish law or you don’t. some people might be stricter than others, but it shouldn’t affect the basic kashrut of a kitchen.

              1. Ramona Flowers*

                Tell that to an Ashkenazi Jew in Israel on Pesach who wants to avoid kitneyot. (I’m not Jewish. I spent many years living with Jews however.)

                1. Future Analyst*

                  I’m so fascinated by all this. I can’t make any sense of half of your sentence, but I’ll happily be Googling the rest of today. :)

                2. tchm*

                  i am an Ashkenazi jew. that wouldn’t make a Kitchen non-kosher. that’s not a different level of kashrut, only an added chumra. There are the laws (halacha) that you must keep. as long as you keep those laws the kitchen is kosher.

            2. Hamavin Yavin*

              Glatt has also become shorthand for menhadrin min hamehadrin, strictest of the strict. Pesach hotels will advertise that they are glatt.

              On a side note, I had no idea there are so many of us Jews on this board!

        3. HannahS*

          Yeah, that’s the problem. The rule would have to be, “People who don’t keep kosher are not allowed to bring in any food, beverages, ingredients, or utensils into this room and are not allowed to use the appliances,” because as Rachel says, it’s just too complicated. I couldn’t expect–or frankly trust–Christina to remember that she can bring in an unpeeled orange or banana, but not strawberries. And that she can only bring in the orange itself, and not a plate or a knife. And if it was suspected that someone had broken that rule, likely the whole kitchen and everything in it would need to be made kosher again, which is either hugely labour-intensive, expensive, or both. So there would be a lot of relying on the good faith (pun intended) of other employees. Which…well, in my experience, people take it about as seriously as they take vegetarianism, but with less knowledge and a touch more antisemitism.

          So you do get some very lovely people who really want to make sure there will be a snack that you can eat at the meeting, and then you get most people, who swear up and down that their homemade pumpkin pie is vegetarian (but they didn’t check, because why would they, and whoops guess what, the only available frozen piecrusts where I live have lard in them), and then you get people who think it’s really dumb and refuse to respect it despite only being asked to leave the crackers for Aviva; they’re the only thing she can eat. Honestly, I understand that desire to lock that door. I don’t think the OP can, though. I think the sign should read that “no food, drinks (yes, including coffee), or utensils are allowed in unless they are strictly kosher and prepared by someone who follows the laws of kashrut.” That way, Aviva can invite Christina in to chat, and Aviva can make them both coffee or something.

          1. Lindsay J*

            I think this wording sounds like the best compromise.

            Because keeping people who don’t keep Kosher out sounds legally iffy, but having people who don’t understand or keep Kosher come in and use the kitchen would likely result in it being made non-Kosher quickly.

            Something on the sign should mention using the kitchen/preparing food as well, I think, because I believe that you could use Kosher utencils and ingredients and still mess things up by preparing meat and dairy at the same time, etc.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Agreed! I like this wording, and I think it does a good job of making it about the protocols that need to be upheld as opposed to the nature of the people.

        4. Nacho*

          Co-worker tried to tell me that “keeping things kosher” was a saying that meant keeping them simple the other day, because “kosher is a simple set of dietary restrictions: Don’t eat pork or shellfish.”

          I really wanted to tell him how wrong he was, but I had to let it go because we were working and I couldn’t think of a way to do it without sounding anal-retentive.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Wow, your co-worker is wrong. Even I know that’s not what “keeping things kosher” means!

          2. another Liz*

            I always thought that expression meant keeping things unscrupulously honest, on the level, what you were promised is what you get. And “is that kosher?” to mean “does this meet standards?”I would also guess people who actually keep kosher don’t use that expression. I no longer use the phrase”it’s like pulling teeth” since actually performing tooth exttactions, because the actual thing is far more difficult than anything I’d use the expression to describe.

            1. curly sue*

              Oh, we definitely use it for all kinds of things. When I was a counselor at a Jewish summer camp, my campers used to use that phrasing (“everyone kosher?”) to ask if anyone was naked in the cabin before opening the front door.

          3. Kathleen_A*

            Jeez. The problem there isn’t a lack of understanding about “kosher” (although that’s illuminating as well). It’s a lack of understanding about English idioms. But I can see why you decided not to try to enlighten him right then, Nacho. It’s hard to come up with a diplomatic way to say “That saying doesn’t mean what you think it means.”

          4. Casca*

            Reminds me of a woman who told me Jews sit in the dark and do nothing all Saturday. There were so many wrong parts of the statement but she refused to listen to me (even though I was the only Jew she’d actually meet- and I’m Orthodox) because she’d learned it in a world religions class :(

            1. Chinook*

              Casa, that dull thud you heard was that woman’s world religion teacher hitting her head against a wall while mumbling something about students not paying attention in class.

        5. neverjaunty*

          There’s a certain irony in being Jewish and unfamiliar with kashrut laws, but worrying non-Jews can’t learn those rules….

          That aside, we’re talking about an office kitchen, not a home. It isn’t difficult to set up the kitchen simply (which also prevents mistakes and accidents by the observant) and to educate people. For example, if you don’t permit any actual dairy in that kitchen (substitutes only), you don’t need two microwaves.

          1. Observer*

            That’s actually totally not the case. A workplace kitchen is HARDER because you can’t know what each person is going to do and what they might bring. And no matter how you set up the kitchen, it depends on people doing everything right – and that’s just not realistic.

            Even people who live their entire lives keeping kosher makes mistakes, especially in shared facilities. The key is that people people who keep kosher consistently will realize that they made the mistake and rectify it before it becomes a larger problem. But people who don’t keep kosher are going to do things that make mistakes more likely, they will make mistakes, and they won’t rectify them largely because they don’t realize that they make the mistake.

            1. neverjauntyorni*

              But that’s just the point – even people who observe kashrut make mistakes or observe at a level that ruins the kitchen for someone else. Education and eliminating risks is far better than a KEEP OUT sign.

              And education is especially key because otherwise you get people who use it anyway because oh, the regular kitchen is out of such and such so I’ll go in there.

              1. tchm*

                I don’t think you realize what keeping a kitchen kosher involves. Educating a person in the many laws and details when they don’t keep kosher is next to impossible. there are so many possible scenarios, that unless you always keep kosher and are aware where problems might crop up, you will make mistakes even if you are educated in the laws of kosher.

                1. knitting librarian (with cats)*

                  Yeah, my go-to book on the basics of keeping kosher is three inches thick…. I try to use that instead of the more detailed 5 volume set ;-) I keep kosher, and still I ask lots of questions when I’m at friends’ houses as we’re preparing food and clearing the table, because practices and kitchen details differ.

                  If I were one of the employees that doesn’t keep kosher, I’d not want to bother with trying to use the kosher kitchen ~ too hard in the midst of a busy work day.

              2. Observer*

                Education and eliminating risks is far better than a KEEP OUT sign.

                Nope. Because it does NOT work. People who keep kosher do make mistakes, but not often and they CATCH THEM and FIX them before you run into major problems. People who don’t keep kosher make mistakes all the time – and don’t even realize that they made those mistakes.

                I find it interesting that people who know NOTHING about keeping kosher keep on insisting that it is SOOOO easy, and all you need to do is to give people a few guidelines and that will prevent all of your problems. It’s just totally not true.

                because otherwise you get people who use it anyway because oh, the regular kitchen is out of such and such so I’ll go in there.

                That’s why there is a sign and a LOCK on the door. All the education in the world is not going to stop a significant proportion of the population.

          2. Future Analyst*

            Theoretically, it’s not that hard to educate people, but I’m gathering that a) there are a LOT of different rules to take into consideration, and b) how would you enforce the education? Have an hour-long meeting going over what is and is not allowed in the kosher email? I could totally see Alison getting an email “My boss is making me attend weekly meetings on how to keep kosher, even though I don’t want to use the kosher kitchen”

      2. Observer*

        That’s nice in theory. But that suggestions actually shows how little you know about Kosher. That’s not surprising, of course, since why would most people who don’t keep kosher know all about it?

        The problem here is not just what foods can be brought in, but how they are prepared. You can have totally kosher foods and still make a kitchen totally non-kosher in short order. It’s just not practical to maintain something like this.

        1. TL -*

          I actually know that keeping Kosher can require a whole bunch of rules/prep spaces/pans, but thanks?
          It was an analogy – the rules of how the kitchen are going to be used should be adjusted based on the needs of the observant group using it.

          1. Observer*

            I was actually responding to NeverJaunty who said that it should be simple enough to educate everyone on the do and don’ts of keeping kosher.

            1. TL -*

              Oh I’m so sorry!
              Yes, my solution would be to post just enough rules to make people decide it’s not worth it – the unpeeled oranges but no strawberries would be great.

        2. Gaia*

          This still doesn’t justify discriminating against *people.* It justifies restricting what happens in the kitchen.

          1. Lilo*

            But it is impossible to police what happens in the kitchen all the time and so those who keep Kosher may feel they cannot trust the kitchen unless there is this kind of rule.

            I had a dorm-mate in college who kept to specific strict kosher rules and I know that even being well meaning, people in our dorm (including me, and I occasionally took shifts to serve food at Hillel for Shabbat dinner, so I am not ignorant of rules) got stuff wrong, including even those who were Jewish but not as strictly kosher. It may really be the only way to keep the kitchen kosher, realistically.

            1. Gaia*

              And it is impossible to police who is kosher and who is not. So either the company is deciding who is kosher (and who is kosher “enough) which is really ugly territory or they don’t restrict people and, instead, set clear guidelines and expectations and provide solutions if things go wrong.

              1. Lilo*

                It is restricting to people who commit to following the rules and have a need to use the specific kitchen. You just can’t expect people aren’t commited to these rules to be able to follow them and you are just setting up a situation where people won’t be able to trust the kitchen. Experience informs that well meaning people not familiar with the rules can mess it up and i t turns in to a headache. If the workplace has to rekosher the kitchen over and over, would it then make sense to restrict people? There may be experience driving this decision.

                1. Colette*

                  Yeah, I totally understand why they’re restricting access. People don’t understand food restrictions they don’t share, and even well -meaning people mess it up.

                  I ent to a restaurant on Saturday. I have a food intolerance and don’t eat peppers. They said “don’t worry, we don’t have any peppers”.

                  The first item on the menu came with sweet chilli sauce.

            2. Natalie*

              But it is impossible to police what happens in the kitchen all the time and so those who keep Kosher may feel they cannot trust the kitchen unless there is this kind of rule.

              If separate kitchens is legally discriminatory (and I don’t know either way), I don’t think this would matter to a court. The bar for certain types of discrimination to be acceptable (race and religion, in particular) is set extremely high.

        3. neverjaunty*

          You do understand that many people who personally don’t keep kosher do in fact understand kashrut, including that there are different levels of stringency, and do understand that there are ways to help keep a shared kitchen kosher other than assuming anyone else is a clumsy oaf?

          1. Penny Lane*

            A really easy way for me to help keep a workplace kitchen kosher is to not use it at all, and let those for whom this is important worry about it. See – because then, if there is a controversy over whether this dish got accidentally mixed with that – I, as a Jewish person who does not keep kosher, would be completely out of it and it wouldn’t be my problem. Seems like the safest way to operate!

            1. the gold digger*

              When I was in high school, I (Catholic) babysat for a Jewish family who kept kosher. They explained the dishes and the food and the rules to me, but I was so worried about messing something up that I just never went into their kitchen when I babysat. I don’t even know if they had the Good Snacks that other families had and that my mom never bought.

          2. Observer*

            That’s actually factually NOT the case. People THINK they know about keeping kosher, but as a matter of practice, it just doesn’t work. Not because they are clumsy oafs, but because it’s just not practical.

            It requires not just theoretical knowledge, but practical information and commitment to practice that’s not reasonable or realistic. Ask anyone whoa actually takes on the practice as an adult what it takes to make that transition – and that’s when doing it full time, not just in the office.

          3. Lilo*

            I used myself as an example for a reason. I do understand kosher rules, but I myself have messed up in the past with a friend who was stricter. You do not have to be a clumsy oaf to forget the rules.

      3. LKW*

        This – if you make this a dairy meal only kitchen you reduce the chances. If you request that people use brown paper bags and sandwich bags instead of reusable tupperware, if they provide plastic or metal utensils in the office and paper or disposable plates, much of this can be managed.

        I think of this as a teachable moment. For current employees, they can be given a basic tutorial and a list of prohibited foods (no lobster rolls or shrimp salad). New employees can be trained when they onboard. At Passover everyone gets a lesson in leavened bread and the joy of egg matzoh with a little cream cheese.

        The company can provide guides to finding kosher foods (the little symbol on your packaged goods). Sure people might get sick of tuna but they can go out for lunch or eat at their desk, they just can’t put leftovers in the fridge.

        1. Temperance*

          I would honestly rather just let the people who keep kosher have their kitchen rather than get repeated lessons on someone else’s religious practice.

          1. paul*

            So agreed!

            My parents made me go to Sunday school as a kid; please, bosses, don’t make me go to one as an adult!

          2. WellRed*

            Right?! I am exhausted just reading some of the examples here that I’d have to remember. I am happy to use the non kosher kitchen.

            1. Temperance*

              Plus, frankly, with all these conflicting rules, I can very confidently say that I would mess up.

              1. Oranges*

                I would also, and then I would feel horrible about the time/expense needed to get the kitchen back to kosher.

              2. Annie Moose*

                Right?? Someone mentioned something about oranges vs. strawberries above–despite having a passing familiarity with kosher and having read the Old Testament (which offers some context about e.g. not eating meat and dairy in the same meal, how much time it takes to clean dishes that have been messed up, etc.), I had absolutely no clue that there were rules about peeled vs. unpeeled fruit! Not just “oh, I wasn’t sure what the rule is”, I didn’t even know such rules existed.

                There is no possible way it’d be safe for me to use a kosher kitchen!

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  I didn’t know this either–I knew about the dairy/meat thing, and the pork/shellfish thing, but not the fruit thing. See, I would have screwed up the first day!

                  FWIW I’m avoiding pork right now for reasons that have nothing to do with religion, and it’s been very difficult. I can’t imagine trying to learn all this for my coworkers.

          3. Penny Lane*

            Fully agreed! More power to those who keep kosher – but I’m not interested in learning more about the practices. The company’s already generously provided me with a kitchen where I can eat my ham sandwich to my heart’s content. What’s the problem?

          4. Future Analyst*

            YES. I’m surprised at the number of comments saying that people should just be educated about this… wouldn’t that then morph into “my co-workers keep trying to teach me their religion- how do I get out of these conversations?”

          5. Q*

            Honestly, this is the best point on this thread. I was in favor of “let them have the kitchen” from the beginning, but yeah.

        2. Snark*

          I get that you mean well, but no. If you start lecturing people on basic kosher rules and lists of foods they can’t bring to the kosher kitchen, they will drop out of the conversation so fas they’ll redshift. Establish a kosher kitchen, tell those who do not keep kosher that they’re not to use it, and call it done.

        3. Millennial Lawyer*

          Sorry, but as a Jewish person, there’s a lot I’m STILL learning and not everything is cut and dry when it comes to Kosher (are eggs meat or dairy? or neither? which animals are kosher and which aren’t? it’s not just no pigs) It would be a burden to force employees to learn all about the minutia of being kosher, and also odd from a religious standpoint.

          1. Hamavin Yavin*

            Eggs are parve AKA neutral. Animals that have split hooves and chew their cud are kosher. (Sheep, goats, cows)

        4. Globe Trotter*

          Yeah, I’m not going to generate more garbage just to satisfy someone else’s religious preferences. I certainly don’t want to be lectured on other peoples’ religious practices, either, and I definitely wouldn’t want to work somewhere where “training” includes this information. Your post definitely makes the case for two kitchens.

    4. CoveredInBees*

      If you don’t regularly keep kosher, it is really easy to slip up and suddenly they have to get a new toaster oven or rekasher something (in boiling water or with a small blowtorch). I keep kosher and am vegetarian. Because I’m vegetarian, my kosher kitchen set-up is relatively simple and my mother still manages to mess something up about every time she stays with me. I’ve gone over how things work but she has her routines and forgets. It isn’t malicious but it is a problem.

      I can see it being an even bigger problem when people assume that something is ok because they know a Jewish person who does or eats a certain thing (or they found info on the internet), even if that doesn’t actually mesh with the established kashrut requirements.

      I’ve found various ways to deal with this at work but the most usable for me was to have a microwave in my office (another reason I hate open plan seating) and colleagues understood what it was for. As a goodwill gesture, I kept a stash of kosher certified popcorn (many major brands are) that people could help themselves to.

    5. Kosher keeping as BFOQ?*

      Isn’t this the exact sort of situation that the law surrounding religious belief or practice as a bona fide occupational qualification are meant for? Setting aside for the moment whether or not it’s best practice, it sounds to me like you could make the case that observing kosher is a BFOQ of working in a Kosher kitchen, if the burden of training someone in Kosher ground-up is an unreasonable expectation. If challenged, you would need to prove that those who are not observant Jews are unable to perform the job, which sounds very likely based on all the comments here about the complexity of kosher kitchen. I don’t disagree that this is “shaky” grounds in that you might risk offending people or having a case filed, but I am also surprised no one has mentioned this yet. I thought the BFOQ law exists for cases just like this?

      1. a different Vicki*

        This is tangential, because the company’s business isn’t running a kitchen, and nobody has been hired to cook for the rest of the staff. However:

        You don’t have to keep kosher to know and be able to follow the rules. For example: My mother doesn’t keep kosher, but she was raised in kosher homes, and kept one when she was married to her second husband.

        I’ve eaten in kosher restaurants (with rabbinical certifications displayed in the window) that had some non-Jewish staff That involves some training, and careful supervision of what food comes into the restaurant at all: if no dairy is allowed on the premises, you’re not worrying about which utensils to use for which food. There are kosher restaurants in New York with no Jewish staff, owned and run by vegetarian Hindus: a rabbi periodically inspects to confirm that, being vegetarian, the kitchen is kosher dairy.

        1. Observer*

          Any kosher restaurant the leaves non-jewish or non-observant workers unsupervised in or near the kitchen is going to lose their certification immediately. The issue comes up again and again- the workers don’t mean any harm, but they absolutely DO do things that create problems.

          As for the vegetarian kosher restaurant with no Jewish staff? Well, don’t get me started. Suffice to say that lots of people have major questions about the matter – especially for vegetarian rather than vegan places.

      2. Antilles*

        No, that’s not applicable here. Two reasons:
        First off, nothing in US law AFAIK requires you to have access to a kitchen during your shift. In some states, your company may be required to provide you with a lunch break, but nothing says they have to give you the means to prepare/eat your food. So designating a kitchen as “kosher only” is not making any form of qualification for the company.
        Secondly, *even if* you wanted to argue that, the company can point out that they have another kitchen for common use – asking non-kosher employees to walk a few extra hundred feet to the other kitchen is a reasonable accommodation by anybody’s standard.

        1. Natalie*

          Secondly, *even if* you wanted to argue that, the company can point out that they have another kitchen for common use – asking non-kosher employees to walk a few extra hundred feet to the other kitchen is a reasonable accommodation by anybody’s standard.

          I’m not sure about this – would it be legal if you had two kitchens and split them along racial lines, or one for men and one for women? This isn’t a rhetorical question, genuinely curious what the commentariat attorneys would say.

          1. Penny Lane*

            We split bathrooms among gender lines, and no one complains that it’s discriminatory to the women that there aren’t urinals in the women’s room, or that it’s discriminatory to the men that there aren’t tampon dispensers in the men’s room.

            1. the gold digger*

              And when there is an emergency, such as one of the three men’s rooms is out of service because of a broken pipe, companies (i.e., mine) have no problems designating the women’s locker room as a men’s bathroom so the men don’t have to wait.

              It’s OK for the women not to be able to use the gym at lunch as long as the men don’t have to wait in line for the urinals. Nobody should ever have to suffer that much. Waiting for a public restroom. Can you even imagine?

          2. Just Me*

            The providing of a kosher kitchen is a religious accommodation. There would not be a similar justification for separate kitchens for men and women or different races.

            1. STG*

              Is a kosher kitchen really a religious accommodation though in the legal sense considering that kitchens don’t have to be provided for anybody?

              1. Just Me*

                Yes. Just because a specific accommodation may not be required doesn’t mean it isn’t an accommodation when it is. For example, in the context of disability. Working from home may be an accommodation, but an employer isn’t required to let an employee work from home if it isn’t reasonable for the position. Accommodation doesn’t mean it is a universal requirement.

                1. STG*

                  So an employee can request a kosher kitchen as a religious accommodation when no kitchen is offered at all? I’m not sure I believe that but alright.

                2. Antilles*

                  An employee can ask for a kosher kitchen in a business without kitchens…but the company would be under no obligation to comply. Legally, the company is only *required* to provide “reasonable” accommodations. Reasonable being the key word.
                  If your office doesn’t have a kitchen at all, making a ‘kosher’ kitchen would require either completely redesigning the office or moving, both of which are not reasonable. So while you could certainly ask for the company to add a kosher kitchen, they could just deny the request. Instead, they could satisfy the law by providing another option, such as giving you an extra 30 minutes on your lunch break to allow you to drive home.
                  Frankly, even if there was only one kitchen, it would still likely be unreasonable to make the kitchen kosher since the requirements to keep kosher would make the kitchen near-unusable for the other 15 people who aren’t kosher.

                3. Just Me*


                  An employee can request whatever they want. That doesn’t mean it will be provided. And relative to a disability accommodation, it is a pretty low bar to meet to deny a religious accommodation. But just because a request would be denied by most employers, doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be an accommodation when it is provided.

      3. Penny Lane*

        I’m not sure this applies. We aren’t talking about, for example, employees in a Jewish nursing home who need to prepare kosher meals for the residents (whether or not the employees, themselves, keep kosher). We aren’t talking about WORKING in a kosher kitchen; we’re just talking about using one for general lunch/snack preparation and consumption.

    6. Anna*

      I absolutely agree that the wording of the sign/policy comes across heavy handed. BUT, the rules of kosher are a)are often misunderstood b)open to a variety of interpretations c)easy to mess up unintentionally.
      A few personal insights+
      1) even as someone who is knowledgeable, married to a Rabbi who ANSWERS questions about this stuff all the time, we make mistakes or close calls in our own kitchen regularly. So do most people who keep kosher.
      2) We take these mistakes seriously, even if it means (sob) throwing away expensive favorite pans or whatever. (Sometimes it does sometimes it doesn’t. See above–complicated)
      3) I keep kosher, work in an institution that keeps kosher, with a certified kitchen that only the kitchen staff have access to. We also have a unrestricted, officialy kosher kitchenette for all of our staff, and I just don’t feel comfortable that nobody inadvertently messed it up, so I personally don’t use it.

      All of which to say, better communication is definitely necessary, and some thinking about how to go about it, but considering there is a kitchen that is unrestricted, I am sympathetic to the urge to restrict that kitchen to only authorized users.

    7. Aixi*

      This is probably already really well-covered but as a person who has kept strict kosher their entire life, I’ve found that people who don’t (and this includes other Jews of varying religious degrees) are simply not aware of how complicated kashrut can be. Even rinsing out a cup from the other kitchen could be enough to render parts of the kitchen un-kosher, requiring a complex and time-consuming re-kashering process.

      I get that it’s not covered under the same legal designations, but I look at it as similar to restricting access to a nursing room for actual nursing mothers instead of people who just want a moment’s privacy, or like reserving the only handicapped stall for an employee in a wheelchair rather than an able-bodied person who just wants extra room. Everybody else has full and equal access to what they need, and frankly this kind of “why do THEY get a kosher kitchen/pumping room/handicapped stall and I don’t” is pretty childish. Since there is another kitchen and the kosher one presumably doesn’t have any amenities the other doesn’t, I can’t imagine a reasonable person having a problem with it. I can see how it would be a little annoying if you just want to rinse out your coffee cup real quick and you can’t in the regular kitchen for some reason, but virtually all employers only have one kitchen anyways. Just act like the kosher one isn’t there.

      Also for what it’s worth this is an extremely common setup in schools/businesses with a mixed observant/non-observant population. And in places where everyone keeps strict kosher, it’s also universal to designate the kitchen as meat or dairy only, or to have two.

      1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        “like reserving the only handicapped stall for an employee in a wheelchair”

        Which would discriminate against disabled employees who are not in wheelchairs, and/or have invisible disabilities that also need the extra room.

  3. Ramona Flowers*

    #2 As well as this being about food and not people, tone really makes a difference. I have lived in Jewish households and would be perfectly capable of respecting such a sign but if it was as stern as yours, I think I’d feel put off. Why not something like this instead:

    This is a kosher kitchen, so please only bring kosher food in. If you have any questions, a kosher-observing coworker will be glad to advise. Thank you!

    1. paul*


      I’m not qualified to talk about what’s legal, but the tone’s pretty…hmm…demanding? Maybe just softening it could help a lot. I mean, the vast majority of us aren’t being non-kosher at you. We just don’t know–or frankly care–what is/isn’t kosher in any depth because it isn’t part of our faith or culture.

      Still like this better than the guy that required everyone keep kosher at work though; saw that in the link.

      1. Observer*

        We just don’t know–or frankly care–what is/isn’t kosher in any depth because it isn’t part of our faith or culture.

        Which is something that most people who keep kosher FULLY understand. But it means that there is no way I could trust you in my kitchen on a regular basis. You will almost certainly mess it up. Not because you are a bad or stupid person or anything like that. But because you don’t know or care about Kosher, and you’re not going to be able to learn and translate into practice everything involved.

          1. Observer*

            You mean that in a workplace kitchen we’re supposed to pretend that the kitchen is kosher even when it isn’t?

            It’s not as if the people who don’t keep kosher don’t have access to a kitchen. What you are asking for is to deny the people who keep kosher a kitchen that they can use.

            1. Gaia*

              No, I don’t mean that at all. I mean it is fine to restrict people from using your kitchen. It is not fine to restrict people from using a workplace kitchen (or any other workplace facility). It gets into really ugly territory of an employer deciding who is kosher (and kosher enough) and it is discrimination.

              1. Scott*

                I need to ask… why on earth not? It’s the owner who are Jewish, and decided they want a kitchen just for Kosher. What would be wrong would be an employee demanding this as religious accommodation. FYI I’m not Jewish, but if I owned a business, and I was observing some sort of diet that required a whole kitchen just for that diet, like gluten free (haha), I would do it. If you said you were Jewish and observing Kosher, and then made non-kosher food in the kosher kitchen, they would penalize you for that, possibly revoke your right to use it.

                1. Jill*

                  There’s a huge difference between keeping a kosher kitchen and prohibiting non-Jews from entering the kitchen.

                2. tigerlily*

                  @Jill, but since they’ve also provided a kitchen that’s NOT kosher so those who aren’t don’t have to follow those rules, I think their kosher kitchen should be just fine. No one is being provided less than anyone else. Everyone’s needs (in the instance of kosher vs non-kosher kitchens) are being met.

              2. Observer*

                You have repeated this multiple times, but you are not basing this in anything factual.

                Nor are any of your comments about keeping kosher remotely factual.

              1. Bookartist*

                Are you really saying that having a fully outfitted completely separate kitchen for the preparation of nonkosher food is equivalent to decades of systemic discrimination against the descendants of slaves in this country? I’d really like to see you make that argument in front of a judge.

                1. TL -*

                  It doesn’t matter if it’s equivalent or not (and it’s not.) That’s what the law says: you can’t discriminate based on a protected class and then say it’s okay because it’s separate but equal. Religion is a protected class.

                2. Gaia*

                  Are you really suggesting that separate but equal should be allowed? We did that before with races, we’ve done it in some ways with religion. And in every case it is deemed wholly unacceptable over the course of time.

                  Separate is not equal. I cannot believe I have to write those words in 2018.

                3. Observer*

                  Actually in many cases not only is it allowed, it’s required. There are still places where, for instance, there need to be separate men’s and women’s bathrooms rather than just having a bunch of single use rooms. And there is NO PLACE in the US where separate bathrooms are forbidden.

                  There are plenty of other examples, if you are willing to spend a few minutes to educate yourself.

              2. Eliza*

                The courts settled that in the specific context of de jure racial segregation. That doesn’t mean that any conceivable method of drawing distinctions between people is unlawful, even if the distinction involves protected group status. For example, separate bathroom facilities for men and women are both legal and extremely common.

              3. Enya*

                Gaia, you seem to be taking this so personally as some act of discrimination when nothing could be further from the truth. Separate is not equal? What is it about using the regular kitchen that is not as good as in the kosher kitchen? How are the regular kitchen users being discriminated against? What are they missing out on in the kosher kitchen? I’m just not getting why this makes you so upset. One of the kitchens is kosher, so don’t use that one. Use the regular one. Most companies only have one kitchen, so it’s not like using only one of 2 kitchens is a hardship. This is not like separate bathrooms for blacks and whites. The kosher kitchen isn’t “against” anyone, it’s to ensure that kosher keepers can eat safe in the knowledge that the kitchen is kosher. That’s all.

                1. Aixi*

                  Right?? On top of that, it isn’t even a Jewish vs non-Jewish thing, which would at the very least fall into a gray area legally. There are MILLIONS of Jews, in fact I’d say the majority of American Jews, who do not observe full kashrut and would also not be allowed to use that kitchen.

                2. Gaia*

                  I am not taking anything personal, actually. I am, however, a bit appalled at the idea that people think an employer should be a judge over anything related to religion, religious related diet, or diet in general. If you go this path you open an employer to deeming some people “not kosher enough’ even though they keep kosher.

              4. Penny Lane*

                Sure, separate is equal in this instance. Just like it’s ok that they designate one bathroom for females and one for males. (And I fully support the right of trans individuals to use the bathroom they identify as, so please let’s not go there.) How is it infringing on the rights of the non-kosher employees that there is a kosher kitchen on the premises?

                There are companies that have prayer rooms set up for Muslims so they can privately observe their religious tenets. How does that differ? I get that a non-Muslim entering that room doesn’t “defile” that space the way a person not familiar with kashrut could “defile” a kosher kitchen, but still.

                1. TL -*

                  My college had a prayer set up for Muslim students while I was there and though it was set up primarily for prayer use, the rest of the student body had access to it as a meditation space/prayer space; they just had to cede the space to Muslim students who needed for prayers.

                  (I never saw anyone else use the room, but I only went there when my friend invited me to Friday prayers.)

                2. Enya*

                  .” If you go this path you open an employer to deeming some people “not kosher enough’ even though they keep kosher.”

                  I’m trying to respond to this comment by Gaia above but I’m unable to respond there for some reason. Just want to say that there have to be certain standards, and yes, this might mean deeming some people “not kosher enough”- but this is not an insult, it’s just a fact. They are not kosher enough for the standards of this kitchen. Because if there are no standards, then there is absolutely no point in having this kosher kitchen in the first place. The people who need it and whom it was meant for won’t be able to use it if these standards aren’t met. Again, someone not being kosher enough is in no way an insult or a smear on their character. I’m a Jew and couldn’t care less if a Jewish friend loves bacon cheeseburgers. It doesn’t affect my opinion of them at all. But I don’t consider them kosher, and wouldn’t consider a kitchen kosher if they prepared food in it. So yes, the standards are necessary. And let’s say a friend considered themself kosher even though they eat hard cheese without a kosher label. Conservative and Reform Jews are fine with this, but orthodox Jews aren’t. So Jews who keep kosher to orthodox standards- again, the people this kitchen was meant for – won’t be able to use the kitchen if other Jews, who according to their beliefs are keeping kosher, melt uncertified hard cheese in the toaster oven or microwave. There have to be standards.

              5. tigerlily*

                I think you need to be looking at this issue with a lens of equity vs equality. Those who keep kosher NEED a kitchen that is free of contamination. Those who don’t, don’t. So there’s a kitchen that doesn’t keep kosher and one that does, that way everyone’s needs are met.

                The difference between this and “separate but equal” is that in this instance there are two needs that need to be met but that CAN’T be met in one kitchen.

      2. Monica*

        So don’t go work at an orthodox Jewish company then. Or don’t go into a space you don’t need to go into that you’ve been explicitly told has been set aside for religious observation. Hardly rocket science.

        1. Sally Sue*

          That’s a slippery slope. A company is not a person. Only people can have religion. Not a company. Only specific religious organizations can limit the religion of the person hired in the US. Based on the OP, this is a company who can not discriminate against employees based on religion.

          1. Observer*

            This is a privately owned company, which is very different from a corporation. And, to be honest, this is not discrimination, in any real sense (I don’t know about legal, but conversational use). There is a kitchen for people who don’t keep kosher. So, it’s not like people who keep kosher get access to a kitchen, and people who don’t keep kosher don’t get access to a kitchen.

    2. Triple Anon*

      I’m not Jewish, but would the idea of locking people out of a kitchen also be considered wrong? Which takes higher priority – helping people keep kosher or being welcoming and making sure everyone has access to a kitchen? (Assuming that a non-kosher person might want to use the kosher kitchen if something went wrong with the non-kosher kitchen.) It seems like it could be complicated from a religious / ethical perspective.

      1. another Liz*

        They do have access to A kitchen, just not THIS kitchen. But legally you can’t frame it as “this is the Jew kitchen”. I think you could lock it, give the code to anyone who agreed to abide by the rules (and I am not Jewish but since there’s different levels of kosher and specific items only go in specific places/are used in specific items, there’s got to be documentation for how this particular kitchen is set up), then you could grant access to anyone agreeing to abide by those rules and subsequently revoke access to anyone who violated those rules. In effect, that creates a reliably secured kosher space for those who observe without defining it in terms of “you must belong to X group to enter”. It’s not so much what the company does as how they do it.

        1. Triple Anon*

          What I meant was, what if the non-Kosher kitchen is full of people and someone really needs a kitchen to use? Or the non-Kosher microwave breaks? One by one, those scenarios are unlikely, but it is likely that at some point there will be some legitimate reason for a non-Kosher person to access the other kitchen. I’m not sure if the spirit of, “Do not enter. You’re not welcome here,” really goes with the overall religion and the reasons people keep Kosher. Does that make sense? I mean, it’s reasonable to have two kitchens, but if it comes down to it, what is the priority?

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I cannot imagine a situation where you would “really need a kitchen.” Is nuking your lunch that urgent? You would have to wait for the microwave if there were only one kitchen.

            For all intents and purposes, for each set of people here, there IS only one kitchen.

      2. Temperance*

        I think the sign is a little shaming, but keeping it kosher is really important to the people who hold those beliefs. If the regular kitchen is non-operational, the staff can go out for lunch or whatever. People who keep kosher can’t do that as easily.

        1. STG*

          I don’t think the burden should be on one group to support the religious beliefs of others. Personally, I don’t have an issue with it since there’s a second kitchen. I would have a huge issue if one was operational and I was expected to eat out because of your religious beliefs.

          1. Temperance*

            I normally would agree with you, but the process to recertify something as kosher is very, very intricate, and takes a ton of effort. I think that the company should theoretically buy pizza or something for the non-kosher folks if the kitchen is out of service, but keep the other kitchen kosher.

            1. STG*

              I’d be good with pizza in that situation. I get that it’s intricate and difficult but that’s not really my problem either.

              1. rldk*

                But that’s the thing – it’s not your problem, but it would be a HUGE problem for those who keep kosher. Based on their beliefs, they would not be able to consume ANYTHING in the office if the kosher kitchen was misused. Part of the benefit of having the separate and restricted kitchen is ensuring that the burden of keeping kosher is kept only on those who wish it, and the rest of the staff has access to a standard kitchen where there are no burdens.

                1. STG*

                  Right…which I have zero issue with. If there is an option for non-kosher folks, then great. Everyone gets what they need.

                  Temperance and I were talking about if there was only a kosher kitchen available because the normal one was non-operational. I’d feel pretty raw about being expected to eat out to accommodate someone else’s religion. I don’t really care how difficult it is to keep kosher. That’s your religion and your choice. It’s not mine.

                2. Desdemona*

                  But STG, if there were no kosher kitchen and the company’s kitchen became non-operational, the situation for non-kosher employees would be exactly the same as if there were a kitchen they weren’t allowed to use. Allowing non-kosher users in the kosher kitchen renders the kosher kitchen non-kosher. At that point, there is no point in having a kosher kitchen at all, so presumably the company will convert the space into something that serves the business, like an extra conference room or making is a copy center. Contaminating the kosher kitchen doesn’t net the non-kosher eaters anything.

                  Also, the situation for the kosher employees in the case that the kosher kitchen becomes corrupted is exactly what you’re complaining about as a hypothetical. Why should they have to bear the burden of not having a kitchen they can use because you want a spare kitchen, just in case the microwave blows up in the standard kitchen?

    3. RobM*

      That would probably be my approach too, but maybe it isn’t working. I have to say that I’d avoid the kosher kitchen myself because I am not certain what is and is not a problem, other than knowing it’s more than just one or two food items, but I’d appreciate a notice that asked me to be considerate more than one that ordered me to keep out.

      I think the optics of this would be very different if there were only one kitchen and your options were “go kosher or go hungry” but OP#2 mentioned that there was another ‘general access kitchen’ so people who don’t keep kosher have access to facilities, so this seems perfectly reasonable to me if the request is made nicely.

      1. Triple Anon*

        If the request is made nicely. The sign says, “Stop Do NOT Enter. Kosher Access to Authorized Kosher Co-Workers Only.”

    4. LKW*

      Unfortunately it goes beyond just the food. It includes the containers, plates, utensils too. If I put a fork designated for meat in the milk dishwasher – unkosher. It’s definitely complicated.

  4. Mr Grinch*

    “He was only fired because the company didn’t want to look bad in the press or with the public.”

    Which is a totally valid reason to fire someone!

      1. Milo*

        Or almost fired after falsely being accused of being a rascist Nazi who attends white supremacist rallies

    1. MassMatt*

      You beat me to the punch. I’ll ad that it is foolish to post controversial or inflammatory views on social media and assume that a) only people you know and like will see them, and b) views/statements/pictures should have no consequence.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I will ever marvel at the government employees using their government emails to send around racist jokes, being shocked, SHOCKED that one of the people on their extensive work email list forwarded it to the press.

    2. Monica*

      It’s extremely disturbing that the LW considers publicly verbally abusing a murder victim’s family to be “not hurting anyone.”

      1. Lady Phoenix*

        Was it murder though? All I could get is that the wife did something that got her no parole.

        Still doesn’t mean excoworker is allowed to be a dick to the victim, btw.

        Just want to clarify if there is a way to tell this was a victim of murder and not theft or fraud or something.

        1. Temperance*

          Generally speaking, we can tell that her crime had a body count from her sentence and the LW’s language. She doesn’t mention the victim, but the victim’s family.

        2. BananaPants*

          In the United States, most states have mandatory sentences of life without parole for those convicted of first degree murder, or when a murder occurs in the commission of another felony. Sentences for lesser crimes usually allow for parole after some period of time.

          You just don’t wind up in prison for life without possibility of parole for run-of-the-mill felonies, even if a “three strikes” law applies (those have possibility of parole and in most states at least one of those felony convictions has to be for a crime that is violent in nature).

      2. Shiara*

        I’m a little uncomfortable with some of these comments, because Victims’ Rights Advocacy can have a very emotionally messy relationship when it comes to the intersection of multiple social justice issues, including institutionalised racism, prison reform, rehabilitation vs punishment debates, etc. And the fact that it’s very easy, especially for the media, to boil issues down to criminal bad, victim’s family (who are, of course, victims themselves) innocently wronged when there are, or can be, nuances.

        Obviously, calling the victim’s family scum on social media is appalling, impolitic, and nasty. But that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t other appalling, nasty behaviour in the other direction that just had a more socially acceptable target. The company, of course, had every right to fire the employee. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be wary of situations where what might be an intemperate one-off gets turned into a media frenzy of condemnation for one party in particular.

      3. Just Allison*

        thats what I thought too! Even if it hadnt gotten out that he worked at the company they could have still fired him. To me this individual made comments that show he has a lack of compassion, and I wouldnt want that kind of person working for me.

    3. it_guy*

      I knew one application developer that was arrested for an unspecified charge, and he went to his boss to apologize totally realizing that he could have been fired for it. Fortunately, he wasn’t let go, but it was pretty close.

  5. Milo*

    So for the first letter, the Letter Writer asked if she/he should advocate for their former coworker (I presume to get them their job back). Is this something they should do? Or will it harm them since this is the first job in the field after school and they only are 7 months in? They do seem to feel strongly about it.

    1. neverjaunty*

      I get the sense that the letter writer doesn’t have a clear idea of what that advocacy would be like, only that she feels the co-worker was treated unfairly and wants to do something f about it.

      I think that would go over even more poorly than the interns protesting their right to wear sandals.

      1. Tuxedo Cat*

        I agree. Whatever social capital the letter writer has accrued, this isn’t where they should spend it.

      2. eplawyer*

        As noted, you hit the nail on the head. This is not school where you circulate a petition to correct some perceived injustice. This is a workplace, where people have jobs to do and there are policies set by the company. It is not a democracy.

        LW, this is not the hill you want to die on. If you advocate for this guy you might find yourself at the unemployment office with him. You have a limited amount of capital to expend at work. Use it wisely.

        1. Anne (with an "e")*

          OP #1, you are not at school anymore. I strongly doubt that you have any standing to advocate for your coworker.
          Things to consider:
          1. Your employer absolutely has the right to fire your coworker.
          2. Do you want your judgement to be questioned by your employer?
          3. Do you have the capital to expend on this?
          4. Are you willing to risk your reputation in your industry over this?
          5. Are you willing to face the possible backlash from the community that you live in?
          6. Are you willing to lose your own job over this?
          7. Have you considered how the victim’s family will feel if you advocate for your coworker?

      3. Natalie*

        Indeed. And really, I don’t see this kind of advocacy being terribly effective under most circumstances, unless the person advocating actually has a position in the organization to affect change. If someone is fired totally unjustly, their managers have already crossed a moral event horizon that a complaint from a random other co-worker seems unlikely to change. You could quit, of course (a la the costume contest LW), but that has more to do with your own morals than it does with trying to get someone un-fired.

    2. Sherm*

      The OP doesn’t really have an argument to stand on, because the company was well within its rights and made a sensible decision. It could indeed harm the OP and even more senior employees to be seen as a fan of this guy.

    3. Artemesia*

      It is always sensitive to advocate for a fired employee. There are times when a real injustice has been done and one might want to risk their job by protesting a firing, but one always risks their job in doing this. I don’t see the moral position in advocating for someone who has sought out and become engaged to a murderer so heinous that they are incarcerated for life and has attacked the family of her victim or victims as scum. What principle of fairness is being upheld here? I would not want such a person associated with my business either.

      1. paul*


        I mean, I’ve seen instances in the media where it seemed like someone was fired over something that, IMO, they shouldn’t have been….but you’re calling the victim’s survivors scum on a publicly view able website? Yeah, that’s f’d up. And a really incredibly poor choice all around.

      2. Shiara*

        I want to say, first, that the company was completely within their rights to fire the guy for his cruel, insensitive comment.

        That said, I do think there is a moral position to advocate against bowing to a media frenzy over what could be an intemperate one off where we have very few details. Would it change things for you if we found out the murder happened thirty years ago, was a case of a robbery gone wrong that tragically resulted in the death of the victim, and that the victim’s family had continuously lobbied against the perpetrator having any leniency or mercy for the past thirty years despite model behaviour and signs of pursuing education, etc, and attempted to stop her from getting married?

        Obviously, that may not at all be the case here. But it, or many other scenarios, could be the case, and I think it is worth thinking about and discussing where the line of fairness is, even if ultimately it doesn’t end up changing the advice. Which is that the company was well within their rights to fire the guy, and that there’s likely very little that the OP could or should do to try to advocate for him.

    4. Ramona Flowers*

      I think advocating for someone who posted this particular thing on Facebook could backfire very badly, regardless of tenure or seniority. I know I would have trouble working with someone who chose this to die on this particular hill.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Agreed. His romantic life is his romantic life, but referring to the victim’s family in the manner he did is pretty cruel/depraved, no matter what he thinks of them. I think it would cost OP a lot—regardless of seniority—to advocate for the fired employee, especially because I don’t think there’s a moral defense for what he did or for why firing him was wrong. And also because I don’t think it’s going to change anything.

    5. JamieS*

      I think advocating for someone over this type of thing would harm anyone regardless of seniority. I can’t imagine, for example, the CEO of OP’s company making a statement in defense of OP’s fired coworker and still being CEO the next day.

    6. Gaia*

      There are people who feel very strongly that actions outside of work (often on social media) should have no bearing on work. These people want protections put in place to ensure this. If the OP believes this, they are welcome to advocate for this.

      OP should remember, however, that they work for a company that doesn’t agree. And this is going to go over like a lead balloon. It is likely going to be seen as supporting what was said, and well….someone has already been fired for that. OP may be willing to sacrifice their job for this. But also should remember that a lot of companies agree with their current company and may not look kindly on this decision. It all comes down to how important this is to the OP.

    7. RobM*

      They might not have the whole story. The employee in question might have been asked to explain their post and became defensive and rude about it. As a manager, I’d start by asking the employee in question what their thoughts were, did they understand why it could be an issue for the employer, etc. and whatever way I was leaning prior to the discussion could be influenced by their response.

      And the OP does not know either way about that part of the firing; if a discussion happened, what the scope of it was, etc. and that can drastically change the discussion.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*


        LW, if you take away absolutely nothing else from this comment section, please take away the notion that you do not — and in terms of what went on in a disciplinary meeting you weren’t in, you certifiably do not — have all the information relevant here.

    8. LKW*

      My nephew is at that stage where if something doesn’t go his way he says “That’s not fair!” And I tell him, “Yes, sometimes things aren’t fair.” When you’re younger I find you view the world more black and white – what’s fair, what’s unfair. Life isn’t fair and companies don’t have to be fair to employees – they have to manage their business.

      1. neverjaunty*

        But that isn’t true. Companies should be fair – or we would all think it was OK for the company to promote an incompetent worker just because he was married, or because he and the CEO shared a hobby. If everyone just shrugged and said “yeah, life isn’t fair” then we wouldn’t have laws preventing employers from hiring only white people, or paying women less than men for the same jobs.

        Your nephew’s problem is likely that he’s confusing “fair” with “what I want” (it isn’t fair that my sister gets half the cookies instead of me having all of them) as children do. But may I suggest that if he is genuinely perceiving unfairness, it’s better to talk to him about that rather than suggesting unfairness is the default and acceptable state of things?

        1. the gold digger*

          Companies should be fair – or we would all think it was OK for the company to promote an incompetent worker just because he was married

          We don’t think it’s fair. And companies should be fair. Unfortunately, they are not. And sometimes, we are powerless to do anything about it and it’s a waste of time and energy to be angry about it.

    9. Temperance*

      It’s a stupid hill to die on. Yes, it will cost LW something. She’s new to the working world, and she wants to defend shit behavior.

      1. SeuciaV*

        Yeah, I agree that a big part of this situation though is that relative newness to work place norms and understanding where some of these lines really are. It’s not dissimilar to the conversations Alison frequently has with people who write in asking about what is illegal versus what is unfair or unreasonable or just a bad practice. I think OP#1 does somehow equate this to a company doing something to an employee that is “illegal” (like they are overstepping their bounds as an employer, or perhaps erroneously thinking this falls under the free speech umbrella as others have discussed farther upthread) or something they aren’t “allowed” to do.

        And if that is the way they are looking at it, I understand that uneasy feeling that is making them wonder if there isn’t something they should do. But as many, many, many other commenters have pointed out the company has a right to terminate employment for a whole host of reasons, including the fact that this employee wrote something that upset a lot of people and displayed some really poor judgement (or at least a lack of self-control).

  6. Alldogsarepupppies*

    I think the Kosher thing may be a religious requirement. I don’t keep kosher – but I went to a college that had a dining hall that was had both a kosher and non-kosher kitchen – so I have some understanding. Unless you had the kosher stamp on your dining card you couldn’t take food or plates/untinsils from the kosher side. I once put a goy banana on my friends kosher tray (trays they used on the kosher side only so they could put their plates on tables where non-kosher plates have been) and she freaked out because it was NOT OKAY. My understanding was that its not just the food that needs to be kosher, but in the strictest readings of the Torah everything. So if the plate at one point touched non-kosher food it couldn’t just “wash off”. So if you bring in tupperwear that hasn’t been kept completly kosher, you could be desanctifying the kitchen for all.

    Also, there could be things like alternative meat/dairy days to prevent the mixing of the two, that you might not be aware of. Or things you think are kosher because they don’t have bacon or shrimp, but haven’t been prepared in the Kosher way.

    Given that Kosher has such a range of ways to practice, they might be playing to the strictest sense, in which case only Kosher partitioners is the best way to provide religous accommodations.

        1. Alldogsarepupppies*

          I took it from the non-kosher side of the dining hall – so it was “unclean” by the strictest standards the dining hall used.

        2. Shira*

          They are. Absent any other context I’m not sure why a banana would be a problem on a kosher tray (maybe it was cooked or came into contact with non kosher food?) But the phrasing just made me laugh :-)

    1. Sigh*

      Yup, but the several dining halls I’ve been to will keep all items going to be served as kosher in the kosher area, since there’s potential for the pareve food to be accidentally touched by milk or meat. Honestly, it was a little overboard for me (especially in the case of whole, unpeeled fruit) but I appreciated the stringency.

      In the case of fruit dishes (like a serving of fruit cocktail in a dish), if it was in the same set of dishes that served something fleshig, or with meat, the night before, without being properly kashered (if even possible with whatever material the dishes are), it would be considered meat. So chopped bananas served in a fleshig bowl would be fleshig, so taking a bowl of bananas from the unkosher side and putting them on a kosher tray could be problematic.

    2. LKW*

      The saga of the goy banana… your friend was a little off there. Thank you for the delightful new phrase.