What About Chic-fil-A Workers’ Freedom?

I’m on the record as saying I think it’s a straightforward infringement on freedom of speech for a city to try to ban Chic-fil-A because of its CEO’s disgusting right wing politics.

But one good reason you should stop eating at Chic-fil-A (other than their dead-ender CEO, and diarrhea) is the oppressive organizational culture Josh Eidelson describes in this must-read piece at Salon:

Wealth gives Chick-fil-A’s owners an outsize impact on our politics: As we’ve been reminded this week, the company channels millions of dollars into anti-gay organizations. But its impact on national policy is nothing compared to its influence over the lives of its employees. Comments from the company’s founder suggest that Chick-fil-A embraces its legal right to reward and punish employees’ private behavior. And a series of lawsuits allege that managers have wielded their authority over workers in ways that break the law: firing a Muslim for refusing to pray to Jesus; firing a manager so that she’d become a stay-at-home mom; and punishing workers for objecting to sexual harassment.

It’s now common knowledge that Chick-fil-A wears its brand of Christian conservatism on its sleeve. In a 2007 article, Forbes’ Emily Schmall described how that ethos infused the company’s employment policies. It meant extensive vetting of franchise operators, including interviewing their children and asking about their involvement in “community, civic, social, church and/or professional organizations.”  “If a man can’t manage his own life, he can’t manage a business,” Chick-fil-A founder and chairman S. Truett Cathy told Schmall.

But operators weren’t the only ones being judged on their private lives: Schmall wrote that Cathy “says he would probably fire an employee or terminate an operator who ‘has been sinful or done something harmful to their family members.’”

Good comments from Corey Robin here.