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June 24, 2005

Corporate values vs your values

If you write an essay on your own time with your own equipment and of your own thoughts, should your company be allowed to fire you if the essays conflicts with the company's values, even if you don't specify your connection to your company? The Allstate insurance company thinks so. J. Matt Barber, a former manager for Allstate, is suing the company after they fired him for writing an article against homosexuality from his Christian viewpoint that was posted on several websites. A month after it was posted, he was suspended with pay and escorted off the premises because, as the Human Resources assistant VP told him, the column didn't reflect Allstate's views. Three days later, he was phoned to tell him he was fired "for writing the article". Allstate even lobbied to keep him from getting unemployment benefits, but after bringing his case to the Illinois' Dept. of Employment Security, the agency sided with Barber and said he was entitled to the money. In their report, the agency said Barber's action was not misconduct, which is deliberate and willful, and his actions were neither.

The firing by Allstate was not specifically due to the Christian viewpoint, but the anti-homosexual ones that came from it. This is the latest symptom of a society that is becoming so "tolerant" of homosexuality that you don't deserve a job if you disagree. Back in October, 2004, the Royal Bank of Canada started handing out special "Safe Space" stickers that workers could place in their cubicles to show they wouldn't tolerate "homophobia". If you didn't agree with the company's position on homosexuality, you weren't "safe"; you were "homophobic". We've now moved to the point that Christians now may have to fear for their jobs if they speak out on their own time. "Sure, we're tolerant of your views, as long as you don't express them" is the motto of this new "tolerance".

Some who agree with Allstate's position on homosexuality may also agree that they shouldn't have fired Mr. Barber. That's all well and good, but it should be clear that we crossed a line quite some time ago where this sort of reaction is not just possible but actually occurring. Unless we reign in this sort of behavior, and I don't see the willingness to do that from "tolerance" advocates, it'll be a brand of intolerance that we'll be seeing more of.

Posted by Doug at June 24, 2005 12:11 PM

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Gotta love them diversiphiles. "We love everyone. EXCEPT YOU! NOW GET OUT! Are they gone now? Those intolerant ones? Good....Now we don't have to be bothered by their differences."

Posted by: Bob at June 28, 2005 05:53 PM

What did his article say, exactly?

Posted by: Mark at June 28, 2005 09:05 PM

The article in the link summarizes some of his points, but the actual article is here:

Posted by: Doug Payton at June 28, 2005 09:45 PM

Specifics? Links? Googling "Matt Barber" brings up a boatload of information (there's more than one Matt Barber on the planet). The first page of results do link to articles by Mr. Barber on Democrats actions on terrorism, the Terry Schiavo case, the mainstream media, a -defense- of the rascist attacks against Condi Rice, and, yes, a very reasoned article about homosexuals and why he disagrees with their views.

Gotta do better than that.

Posted by: Doug Payton at June 29, 2005 11:58 AM

The right of workers to their opinions is a tough one. If an employer was taking responsibility for their staff's well-being as a whole for the rest of their lives, maybe they could start policing everything, but as it is, surely not, unless they could argue that out-of-hours behaviour revealed something about the person that made them unfitted for their job. I've never been very happy about the principle that someone who commits a crime in their own time is punished not just by the law but by their employer. I explore the qustion of blogging and employment in a radio play 'Dooced':

I disagree about the stickers, though. Nobody is asking employees to share their beliefs, just to respect their privacy and feelings.

Posted by: martin at July 6, 2005 06:35 PM