By Chris Morris
November 6, 2017

Juli Briskman was just out for a bike ride when the motorcade of Donald Trump drove by. Not an especially big fan of the president and even less of one of some of his recent actions, she raised her middle finger to express her opinion.

What she didn’t know is that a White House photographer traveling with the president snapped a picture of that from behind. Nor did she know it would go viral as opponents of the president felt it showcased their own frustrations with the administration. And she certainly never suspected she would lose her job because of it in the days to come.

Briskman’s employer, the government contractor Akima LLC, terminated her last Tuesday, saying she had violated its social media policy by using the photo as her profile picture on Twitter and Facebook.

“They said, ‘We’re separating from you,’” Briskman told The Huffington Post. “Basically, you cannot have ‘lewd’ or ‘obscene’ things in your social media. So they were calling flipping him off ‘obscene.’”

A woman on a bike gestures with her middle finger as a motorcade with US President Donald Trump departs Trump National Golf Course October 28, 2017 in Sterling, Virginia.
Brendan Smialowski—AFP/Getty Images

Virginia is an at-will state for employers, meaning companies can let workers go for any reason.

Briskman spent six months at Akima, working in the marketing and communications division. And while she’s not happy about the company’s action, she says she doesn’t regret her own one-fingered salute to the president.

“In some ways, I’m doing better than ever,” she said. “I’m angry about where our country is right now. I am appalled. This was an opportunity for me to say something.”

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