In today’s political and social climate, we can find extremists on all sides of the political spectrum. The upcoming 2020 presidential election and the partisan divide over political differences has become increasingly polarized. Thoughtful deliberation and compromise feels increasingly out of reach when it comes to Trump supporters and non-Trump supporters.

Danielle Reiss, a music publicist living in Nashville, TN attended President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Henderson, Nevada On September 13, 2020. A few days after attending the Trump campaign rally the ad agency she worked for discontinued her contract.

According to Reiss she had signed a public relations partnership agreement with Pop Off, an advertising agency for independent musicians that connects publicists like Reiss with independent artists. She received her first client from Pop Off on September 10, 2020.  On September 13, 2020 Reiss attended President Donald Trump’s campaign rally and posted on social media a photo of herself with a “Make America Great Again” sign. Reiss captioned the photo the following: 

 “I saw our president speak in Anaheim, California in 2016. Yesterday, I watched him speak in Las Vegas, Nevada. God Bless America.” 

Four days after attending the campaign rally Reiss was shocked to receive a termination notice via email from Pop Off President and Chief Financial Officer, Ben Silvers. In the email Silver announces the agency’s plans to discontinue their business relationship. 

According to Reiss the contract with her first client from Pop Off ended on October 9, 2020. As agreed in the Partnership Agreement between Reiss and the company, Reiss paid Pop Off the percentage of her earnings for that day. The Pop Off agency did not reach out to Reiss with any further clients afterwards even though the agency agreed to continue working with Reiss until February 2021. Reiss was also excluded from Pop Off’s company-wide meetings for the month of October.

Reiss stated that she never signed a code of conduct in regards to what she could and couldn’t post on social media. There was no verbal or written agreement signed with the agency regarding social media policy.

Reiss responded to the termination email on October 12, 2020 and it read the following: 

“Dear Ben, Edmond, Pat, & Paula,

There’s nothing less diverse or less inclusive than a company who terminates someone because they have different beliefs than those of the organization. Diversity also includes diversity of thought and diversity of opinions, which are not being upheld. If your ideas of diversity and inclusion only allow for those with the same ideologies as yourself, it’s hardly diverse but rather very exclusive and entirely motivated by discrimination. This email is the furthest thing from equality, and your contract partnership agreement with me states nothing of the nature regarding discrimination against conservative values. My political preference does not affect my professional relationship or job. It does not affect how I represent clients. Your reasoning behind my termination was due to the fact that I was holding a “Make America Great Again” poster to which I was exercising my constitutional right as an American citizen. I’ve never posted anything racist, hateful or demeaning. Being a public relations professional, I believe it is the right of all my clients to hold whatever political views they see fit for their personal lives, as long as it’s not done to incite hate speech or racism. If it were a conversation, you would give me a chance to speak before deciding to terminate me. It’s not a conversation, it’s a discriminatory decision made based on personal biases. While hating a president is certainly a belief you’re allowed to hold, it unfortunately holds no merit in a court system. “

Reiss shared the following statement with FFL:

“As an American citizen, the First Amendment guarantees the right to freedom of expression. Diversity and equality aren’t limited to what side of the political spectrum you’re on. It’s contradictory that the Pop Off Agency claims to focus on inclusivity and equality yet because my views are outside of their own, I’m terminated for holding them. As a company, if their ideas of diversity and inclusion only allow for those with the same ideologies as themselves, it’s hardly diverse but rather very exclusive and entirely motivated by discrimination. Being a public relations professional, I believe it is the right of all my clients to hold whatever political views they see fit for their personal lives, as long as it’s not done to incite hate speech or racism. If Pop Off Agency stands for being incredibly diverse, standing for equality, inclusion, and kindness in everything they do, their executives would incorporate a culture that reflects their core beliefs.”

Political disagreements are nothing new and have often times brought out the worst among us. As Americans, we should all make an effort to focus less on what separates us, and more on what unites us.  Disagreement and civil debating can help foster intellectual growth. Regardless of political affiliation and/or ideology no one should be cast into disrepute. Diversity of thought is the most important diversity of all, not only does it bring forward unique viewpoints into perspective but it also challenges us to innovate. 

Emma J
CABINET