Local News

Lawyer: Med First had right to fire woman for social media video that suggested Biden be shot

Posted January 8, 2021 5:16 p.m. EST
Updated January 9, 2021 10:32 a.m. EST

— A short video posted to social media has caused a lot of trouble for the woman who appears in it, costing her job and, perhaps leading to federal charges.

In the brief clip, the woman seems to celebrate this week's breach of the U.S. Capitol. Then she says, “Now only if they could find Biden and shoot him between the eyes, that would be great.”

That statement moved authorities to investigate. When the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office became aware of it, her case was handed over to the Secret Service, who visited the woman at home.

The sheriff's office says the woman is Devin O'Neill. According to text on the video, she works at the Med First Primary & Urgent Care in Smithfield.

In a statement, a Med First spokesperson said the company is deeply disturbed by the video and has fired the employee in question.

"The ideas shared in the video are repulsive and do not reflect the values of our organization. As such, we have fired the employee in question.

There is no place in our organization for hate of any kind and we will continue to do our part to promote acceptance and love," the statement said.

Attorney Laura Noble, who is not connected to this case, says Med First is well within their rights to fire her for the post.

“An employer is not bound by the First Amendment," she said. "An employer can restrict the kind of speech it finds acceptable in the workplace.”

Noble says there are exceptions. An employee cannot be fired for complaining about working conditions, public employees have due process hearings, and the rules may be different for workers with employment contracts.

But outside of those limits, most bosses can fire an employee for making any statement that they find offensive or that reflects poorly on the company.

"If they find it offensive or it in some way demonstrates that you are no longer the right fit for their company and their company values and company culture, they can certainly terminate you for that public speech you made," Noble said.

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