Frank Turek and Cisco Systems’ Discrimination

by Max Andrews

CISCOToday 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…

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