Can you fire an employee for supporting Putin or Russia?

Last month, a Virginia teacher was suspended for expressing approval in class for Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to invade Ukraine. Public employees like this one do have some First Amendment free-speech rights to speak out as private citizens on matters of public concern without interfering with their jobs. But, in this case, the speech interfered with his teaching.

With private employers, there are no such free-speech protections. So if you get a complaint that an employee is vocally espousing support at work for Putin or Russia's invasion, can you fire the at-will employee? Yes, you can.

Even if you can, should you fire a Putin supporter? When The Employer Handbook blog asked that question to readers last month, half said "yes" and half said "no." Many chimed in to say it depended on whether the person's support was creating a hostile environment at work (i.e., the person was harassing others of Ukrainian descent).

What if the employee's pro-Putin talk was outside of work? Again, yes, you can typically fire the person. A handful...

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