Gina Carano, who played Cara Dune in the hit Disney+ series The Mandalorian, was eliminated from the show after her controversial post on social media and its resulting hashtag on Twitter.
California employees and job applicants are entitled to certain protections for their political activities, meaning that, under the law, they are protected from retaliation by employers for their lawful political activity. As per California Labor Code Section 1101 and 1102, employers cannot make any rules or policies that forbid or prevent their employees from engaging or participating in politics, nor can they establish rules or policies that control or tend to control their employees’ political activities or associations.
Courts have interpreted “political activity” to mean basically the same activity as that protected under the First Amendment. The statutes are not “confined to partisan activity,” meaning that it does not have to relate strictly to partisan politics. It can include such things as vocal support of a candidate or a cause, wearing symbolic arm bands, and even the association with others for the advancement of beliefs and ideas.
The Mandalorian’s Gina Carano Is No Longer Employed by Disney
Carano will not be included in The Mandalorian’s upcoming season. The decision was made after she posted the following on her social media account:
“Jews were beaten in the streets, not by Nazi soldiers but by their neighbors….even by children. Because history is edited, most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews. How is that any different from hating someone for their political views?”
Everyone seems to understand Carano was analogizing Republicans today with Jews during the Holocaust. Given the law, does she have a legal claim against Disney?
On the one hand, this can easily be viewed as “political activity,” cautioning Americans about government overreach in America’s current political climate. The Holocaust is also the quintessential example of government tyranny. And her message certainly mentions government, albeit the Nazi government.
Can Employers Discriminate Based on Political Beliefs or Affiliation?
On the other hand, if you parse Carano’s message, you could argue she is speaking on a cultural or historical issue, which would not be considered to be political activity. She questions how the Holocaust is different than the political climate today. The answer is government activity. And the law requires a nexus between the message and the orderly function of government for the message to be protected.
She is clearly opposing tyranny, but cultural tyranny. Carano’s post is focused on relationships among people in society. That may be too disconnected from government to receive protection.
Still, the law looks at Disney’s intent in firing her. This is important, because even if her post is not protected activity, her termination may still be unlawful. Disney’s intention controls. The law reads between the lines and, in effect, protects cultural activism sometimes as well. It does so with common sense: cultural conservatives are usually political conservatives, so when Carano advocates a culturally conservative message, there may be a likelihood that she was fired because of her association with political conservatives.
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Stories suggest Disney targeted her for that very reason. Rumors are circulating that Disney had been trying to oust Carano for months because of her increasingly conservative presence on social media. That suggests the true reason as to why she was fired, which is itself evidence of disparate treatment based on political activity.
If you are a victim of employee discrimination in the workplace, you can consult or take help of employment discrimination attorney. If a fan favorite is not safe from this targeting, neither are average employees. If your employer creates a politically biased workplace, reach out to an employment discrimination lawyer in California to help determine if you have any remedies available. Our attorneys at the Dhillon Law Group are happy to speak with you about these issues.
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