Business people do foolish things when they get emotional. Foolish, brand-staining, possibly illegal things. The key passage from the CEO’s post-election company-wide email:
I’m still trying to reconcile my own worldview with the overwhelming message that was delivered last night. Clearly there are a lot of people angry and scared as the antithesis of every modern presidential candidate won and will be our next president.
While demeaning, insulting and ridiculing minorities, immigrants and the physically/mentally disabled worked for Mr. Trump, I want to be clear that this behavior – and these views, have no place at Grubhub. Had he worked here, many of his comments would have resulted in his immediate termination…
Further I absolutely reject the nationalist, anti-immigrant and hateful politics of Donald Trump and will work to shield our community from this movement as best as I can. As we all try to understand what this vote means to us, I want to affirm to anyone on our team that is scared or feels personally exposed, that I and everyone else here at Grubhub will fight for your dignity and your right to make a better life for yourself and your family here in the United States.
If you do not agree with this statement then please reply to this email with your resignation because you have no place here. We do not tolerate hateful attitudes on our team.I want to repeat what Hillary said this morning, that the new administration deserves our open minds and a chance to lead, but never stop believing that the fight for what’s right is worth it.
Hit the link and read the part at the top for GrubHub’s reaction to the public uproar. The day-after spin, as a Twitter pal put it, is essentially that it’s okay for employees to vote for Trump so long as they don’t agree with Trump. I think it’s more that they’re warning employees not to sound like Trump, at least in his moments of greater rhetorical excess. But it was stupid for the CEO to drag him into it in the first place, and stupid to send an email at all, really. GrubHub workers aren’t about to start calling Mexican co-workers “rapists” because Trump won, obviously. The CEO sent the email not because he’s honestly worried about that happening but because he felt powerless that his candidate lost and wanted to exert his authority over his own little fiefdom. His email might as well have had the header, “I rule here, not Trump.” If he was sincerely worried about discriminatory behavior on the job, he could have said that and omitted all references to Trump entirely.
Note, though, that he didn’t limit his objections to behavior. He said that certain “views” have no place at GrubHub either. If you have a Trump sticker in your cubicle, is that a fireable offense at GrubHub? And if it is, is that legal?
— Kurt Schlichter (@KurtSchlichter) November 11, 2016
If a “No H8” or “Legalize it” sticker in a cubicle is protected by state law, presumably so is the Trump sticker. I assume, as Schlichter said, that a GrubHub lawyer pulled the CEO aside after his email went viral and explained that to him, which led directly to this part of their day-after press release: “Grubhub welcomes and accepts employees with all political beliefs, no matter who they voted for in this or any election. We do not discriminate on the basis of someone’s principles, or political or other beliefs.” The company was merely expressing its opposition to workplace discrimination, they insist. The just chose to do it by, er … gratuitously invoking Trump in order to intimidate pro-Trump employees while they were celebrating their big election win.
The follow-up statement might be enough to protect them in court but the publicity damage has been done. Trumpers seem to have long memories — about some things. About other things, like the conservative belief that businesses should be able to hire and fire whomever they please because they’re private entities, memories might be shorter. But then, that’s true to the spirit of Trumpism, which to some degree is about making the left play by its own rules. Conservatives warned liberals for years that racial identity politics is poisonous to national unity, but Trump won because many working-class (and college-educated) whites voted the way other racial blocs do. Likewise, if the left wants to make it illegal for a Christian business owner to decline service for a gay wedding on conscience grounds, then laws prohibiting retaliation for political activity will be scrupulously applied to GrubHub too. Trump’s formal campaign slogan was “Make America Great Again,” but really, in practice, “It’s Payback Time” would have worked as well.
Update: Some are complaining on Twitter that “you have no place here,” while an accurate quote, doesn’t capture the conditional nature of that statement in the CEO’s email so I removed it from the headline. He said “you have no place here” if you disagree with him about holding views like Trump’s, not if you voted for Trump. Whether that’s legal or not is the question.