Sterling, Va (WUSA9) — It was the flip-off seen around the world. A Loudoun County mom riding her bicycle flipped off President Trump as his motorcade drove by.
She posted it on her social media accounts and the picture went viral. Then she was fired by the Herndon government contracting company, Akima.
On Wednesday, Juli Briskman filed a lawsuit against Akima alleging her right to free speech was violated.
The day that altered her life, October 28, 2017, Briskman recalled a spontaneous response when she saw the president's motorcade after it left Trump National Golf Club.
"All my frustrations welled up inside of me and I flipped him off," she said.
The picture, taken by a press pool photographer, went viral. Briskman told her employer.
“I went into my HR department at work and said, 'hey, I don't know if you've seen this picture but that's me and the media is calling and I just wanted to let you know that they're calling and I haven't decided yet what I'm going to do about it.' They said, 'you're allowed to ride your bike, just don't talk to the media while you're on company time,'" Briskman recalled.
She then used the picture as her cover photos for her Facebook and Twitter accounts.
"Within 24 hours, I was fired," she said.
The mother of two was scared and worried about taking care of her family.
She said the company told her that they fired her because her social media content was obscene and went against their social media policy. Also, she said her employer told her that because they were a government contractor, "they couldn’t have someone like me on staff who didn’t agree with the administration.”
“I’m filing a lawsuit because its against the law in Virginia to try and silence someone for their opinions. It's against the law in our country as well to try to silence someone who is dissenting or critical of our government,” said Briskman.
Her lawsuit also claims a senior employee posted much worse comments on his own social media accounts and was not fired.
"He had very lewd and obscene and disrespectful content on his social media and he had not been fired, apparently...I think there’s a double standard," said Briskman.
Akima’s code of conduct says that it expects all of its employees to exercise good judgment and maintain high ethical standards in all activities which affect Akima and that every Akima employee is held to the standards.
The company had no comment on the lawsuit but Briskman said she should not be punished for expressing her opinion on her own time.
"You should be able to express your opinion about what’s going on with the administration and our government without fear of retribution. And my company should still be able to employ me without fear of retribution. Right? We don't live in Turkey. We don't live in Russia. We don't live in China. Okay? You should be allowed to express your opinion no matter where you work, where you live, the color of your skin, your age, who you love. I mean, you should be allowed to express your opinion. And that's exactly what I was doing and it was on my private time," Briskman said.
Briskman is not asking for her job back, she already has a new one plus other job offers. She’s not even asking for a large amount of money, only $2,692.30 for unpaid severance and attorneys fees.
She suing over the principle of the matter, and, she said, to keep others from being "silenced."