Adria Richards, the developer evangelist who was fired after tweeting an image of two men she heard making sexist jokes, may have a strong case if she decides to take her former employer to court.
Richards recounted on her blog, butyouareagirl.com, that she was seated in a ballroom at a technology conference in Santa Clara, Calif. when the men behind her started talking about “big dongles” in an inappropriate manner. After hearing their remarks, Richards turned around, took a photo of two men and posted it on Twitter with their alleged comments. Here’s how it played out:
The PyCon Conference organizers publicly thanked Richards’ for her tweets but hours later (after pressure from different online communities) her employer fired her.
“We understand that Adria believed the conduct to be inappropriate and support her right to report the incident to PyCon personnel. To be clear, SendGrid supports the right to report inappropriate behavior, whenever and wherever it occurs. What we do not support was how she reported the conduct,” read a statement from SendGrid CEO Jim Franklin.
Rob Pattison, a San Francisco attorney who represents employers for the Jackson Lewis law firm, told the Mercury News defending SendGrid’s decision to fire Richards would be “tough.”
“The law is strong in protecting people who make complaints of harassment, or who participate in an investigation about complaints of harassment,” Pattison told the Mercury News.