Today started off as a rather normal day for me at the office until I happened to notice Dr. Frank Turek post an unsettling news update from his Twitter account. His tweet read,
The Cisco Kid: Fired by Cisco for my political views even though they were never mentioned during work. http://t.co/pwH8UjB via @townhallcom
I almost passed over it as I briefly scrolled through my feed. The link he had shared was an open letter written by Dr. Mike S. Adams to Mr. John Chambers, Chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems Inc. The account of what happened can be read in the letter but I’ll share a brief synopsis. Dr. Turek was hired by Cisco back in 2008 to train in leadership techniques and team building for their Remote Operations Services team. Dr. Turek “was fired as a vendor for his political and religious views, even though those views were never mentioned or expressed during his work at Cisco.” What happened was one of the managers in Dr. Turek’s program Googled Turek and noticed that he had authored a book, which advocated a particular position on marriage that this manager, a self-identified homosexual, disagreed with. A complaint was filed against Dr. Turek for not having values consistent with Cisco.
This has got to be one of the poorest responses Cisco management could have to this type of situation for there are several things that are wrong here. According to Dr. Adams’ open letter the complaining manager discovered that Dr. Turek had written a book on same-sex marriage. Now, North Carolina is a “right to work” or “at-will” state. This means that an employer can terminate an employe without notice, with or without any reason at all. However, the reasons for Dr. Turek’s termination were given as being inconsistent with Cisco’s values. There are exceptions to North Carolina’s “at-will” employment laws. Wrongful termination can be filed for discrimination of age; national origin; disability (physical or mental); HIV/AIDS; gender; race; religion; genetic testing; lawful use of any product during non-work hours; military service; or sickle-cell trait. According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 discrimination is prohibited based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. SEC. 2000e. [Section 701], the subchapter defines “religion” as follows.
(j) The term “religion” includes all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief, unless an employer demonstrates that he is unable to reasonably accommodate to an employee’s or prospective employee’s religious observance or practice without undue hardship on the conduct of the employer’s business.
I have very few credentials in legal research, being that I only took a handful of undergraduate government courses, but it seems that Dr. Turek has a legitimate wrongful termination case to be made in an “at-will” state. I will yield the legal research and precedents to those who are more credentialed and qualified than I am to explicate the legal issues here.
This whole situation is strikingly similar, perhaps even worse than the wrongful termination of NASA’s JPL information technology specialist David Coppedge. Here’s a summary of the situation as provided by The Discovery Institute based out of Seattle, WA.
David Coppedge was an information technology specialist and system administrator on JPL’s international Cassini mission to Saturn, the most ambitious interplanetary exploration ever launched. A division of California Institute of Technology, JPL operates under a contract with the federal space agency. Coppedge held the title of “Team Lead” System Administrator on the mission until his supervisors demoted and humiliated him for advancing ideas that superiors labeled “unwelcome” and “disruptive.” Ultimately they fired him.
Coppedge was terminated for allegedly “pushing” intelligent design upon his coworkers. JPL associated this with Coppedge’s “religious beliefs” and so Coppedge sued on grounds of religious discrimination. (I suggest reading the articles listed for a full account). Cisco meets a sub-par standard of internal consistency and had a knee-jerk reaction to, well they didn’t really know what it was they were reacting to. According to Cisco Systems,
Cisco values and fosters diversity, development, and growth opportunities for staff through employee networks. These networks join employees to help reinforce the value of all aspects of each member’s personality. Valuing the differences in each person increases individual and team performance, productivity, and satisfaction. Cisco believes that its employee networks are critical to an inclusive organizational culture.
Sounds grand, right? By all appearances this seems to be a harbor of professional, kind, and moral work atmosphere free of discrimination. The problem is how consistent is Cisco going to be with this if it is at all possible? Here are a few shortcomings Cisco made amidst this whole debacle.
- Cisco failed to comply with its own policy of “diversity” for not allowing, valuing, and fostering a view of heterosexual marriage that does not support same-sex marriage (Dr. Turek’s belief).
- Cisco failed to substantiate reasonable evidence of Dr. Frank Turek’s non-compliance. The employee did not even exhaust the “evidence” (the book) prior to reporting the violation of values, which seems at this point to be hearsay at best, especially if it was not investigated by Human Resources.
- Cisco failed to recognize the complaining manager’s lack of fostering “diversity” and, by Cisco’s apparent standards, is just as guilty of failing to uphold these values as Dr. Turek.
- Cisco’s value and diversity policy is internally inconsistent, it is self-defeating. There is absolutely no room for genuine diversity if Dr. Turek is an example of the practice of such diversity enforcement. Reasons 1 and 3 make each party guilty of the same thing, which doesn’t permit anyone to have any expression [or beliefs unexpressed, as with Dr. Turek]. This follows that even if Cisco were to enforce any consequences for failing to comply with the value and diversity policy it would be a self-incriminating act by Cisco itself for failing to permit diversity.
- Essentially, tolerance and diversity is incredibly ambiguous (perhaps illusory) and inconsistently applied in Cisco Systems Inc.
I would like to call for Casey Luskin and the Discovery Institute to assist Dr. Frank Turek in legal advice (since they are not only a science think tank but also assist in legal affairs). What makes this whole situation worse than Coppedge’s case is that none of these personal beliefs were expressed in the work atmosphere. I stand behind Dr. Turek and Dr. Adams in their pursuit for answers, justice, and genuine equality under law. I commend Dr. Adams for challenging Cisco CEO Mr. John Chambers to see if he is personally consistent with his company’s own policy (Chamber’s being politically conservative himself). How far will we allow this inconsistency and self-defeating practice of “diversity” go under the guise of “tolerance”?