The equivalent of an economic drone strike took place a few blocks northeast of our Omaha office.
Roy Jones was an hourly customer engagement employee at the Marriott Reservation Center in Omaha. As reported in The Wall Street Journal and Quartz, he liked a tweet by a Tibetan group congratulating Marriott for listing Tibet as a country.
As a result of liking a the tweet, the Chinese government ordered Marriott to suspend bookings at 300 hotels in China for a week. Mr. Jones was also terminated. Matt Hanson in the Omaha World-Herald reported, Jones was under traiend and over stressed when he liked the offending tweet. Jones had little idea that liking the tweet would be offensive to the Chinese.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping made news recently becoming the Chinese leader since Mao Zedong to rule for life. Back in 2016, I wrote a post pointing out Jinping’s increasingly authoritarian tendencies and his crackdown on employee-rights lawyers in China. I never thought the authoritarian Jinping regime would extend its reach into what writer Matt Stoller sarcastically described on Twitter as the “Chinese province of Nebraska.”
Nebraska’s junior senator, Ben Sasse, has made a pet issues out of the emerging threat of cyber-attacks from foreign powers. I would wonder what he thinks about a foreign power, China, having the power to fire one of his constituents?
Hanson concluded his article by concluding that Jones’ termination wasn’t right. I agree, but employment at-will allows employers broad legal protections when it comes to firing employees. In essence, employers have Jinping-like powers in the workplace. But when a foreign dictatorship has the power to fire an American worker, legislators and judges should re-think employment at-will or think about creating exceptions to that legal doctrine.