Some workers in a law office were fired for wearing orange clothing and have now filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against their employer. Apparently it was not one of those offices that tolerated any behavior deemed disrespectful. Employees were not allowed to talk across their cubicles even if the discussions were work-related and couldn’t go to the break room to get coffee during working hours.
In Indiana and across the United States, employment is generally considered to be “at will,” meaning that an employee can be fired for any reason or no reason so long as there is no employment contract. However, employees cannot be fired on federal law for stating their objections to work-related conditions.
There is debate as to why the 14 workers fired were wearing orange on that particular day. Management apparently felt the workers were showing disrespect in wearing the orange warn by prisoners in correctional institutions. However, one worker stated she was wearing orange because she was going to a happy hour that evening with other workers and the orange was in no way meant as a protest.
It may or may not matter what the reasons were for why the workers were wearing orange. If the workers actually were protesting their working conditions, this would not be the first circumstance where workers were fired concerning the type of clothing that they were wearing. Courts have found such firings improper in other instances even when a worker wore a shirt that referred to himself as an inmate.
There may have been more to these firings than what has so far been reported. However, it remains the law that workers should not be fired simply for protesting their working conditions. If such a termination does occur, such workers may wish to consult with an attorney and discuss their legal options.
Source: ABC News, “Fired Orange Workers Couldn’t Speak Over Cubicle Walls?” March 2012