OK so yes this is a generally an employee rights blog, but I am also a self-affirmed Gator hator and Miami Hurricane fan, so I clearly have no sympathy for this arrogant Gator fan, but the whole situation does raise some interesting legal issues to address on this blog.
For those of you who have not been following the story, Renee Gork announced on Twitter that she had been fired by KAKS, a northwest Arkansas radio station that calls itself Hog Sports Radio. Gork had worn a Gator hat Saturday to a news conference with Arkansas Razorbacks football coach Bobby Petrino.
Petrino, whose team lost to the Gators last season 23-20 at Florida, commented on Gork’s hat after answering a question she asked. “And that will be the last question I answer with that hat on,” Petrino said.
Gork, a Florida graduate, said she grabbed the hat without thinking Saturday because it was raining outside. She also said she sent a letter of apology to the university and Petrino.
“Was hoping to publicly apologize to coach Petrino and UA fans on the show today … but I won’t get that chance,” Gork wrote on KAKS’ Twitter account. “I’ve been fired.”
So the question I have been posed is does Ms. Gork have a claim for wrongful termination. Well, my initial gut instinct would be “no.” However, I would first want to take a look at her contract, if she even had a written contract. Based upon the language of the contract, perhaps she could argue that her employer breached her employment contract with her. In some cases it would seem to me that radio and entertainment personalities are hired to “ruffle feathers” and to fire them for doing so might be considered a breach of contract. Would someone fire Howard Stern or Rush Limbaugh for ruffling feathers? Likely not. Of course, I am not saying that Ms. Gork is a Stern or Limbaugh personality, but maybe she was hired to be one of the radio show bad girls. If that was the case maybe the employer breached its contract with when they fired her for wearing her Gators hat to an Arkansas press conference.
Without a contract, unless there is a special Arkansas statute, I dont believe she would have any legal basis to object to the termination. If you do stupid things at work, you run the risk of being fired for it. If you wear inappropriate attire to work, you run the risk of being fired for it. In this case Ms. Gork wore clearly inappropriate attire to work and AND was stupid and was fired for it. Don’t get me wrong, was the whole thing petty and silly if she was otherwise a good employee, YES. However, it does not mean that her employer was not in its rights to terminate her.
What do you all think of this issue?