“I’m a United States Military veteran who served as a medic, and then fulfilled my dream taking care of people by becoming a nurse,” Linthicum wrote. “I was recently fired from my job as a nurse at Kaiser Permanente for exercising my First Amendment right to free speech.”
By Tuesday, an anonymous person had created an alternative page titled "Faith Linthicum Fired - Deserved It" aimed at raising $25,000 for the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit organization that advocates for civil rights and the public interest.
Linthicum lost her position after making a comment as part of a discussion of the police-involved killing of Clark, an unarmed black man shot eight times by two Sacramento police officers on March 18. Her post stated: “Yeah but he was running from the police jumping over fences and breaking in peoples houses … why run??!!! He deserved it for being stupid.”
On her GoFundMe page, Linthicum stressed that she was not a hateful or discriminatory person. Rather, she said, she is a person of faith and a nurse who loves all people and treats everyone equally.
Sacramento activist Christina Arechiga said she doesn’t believe that statement after reading Linthicum’s comments. The statements so disgusted Arechiga, she said, that she went to Linthicum’s Facebook page to determine whether the post was made by a local person.
She discovered that Linthicum was a nurse in labor and delivery at Kaiser’s Roseville Medical Center. Two other posts from Linthicum also troubled her. One stated: “Can we protest the deaths of all the people shot by black people too”? The other read: “He’ll (sic) yeah!!! Build that wall Mr. President!! #prototypeshopping.”
Arechiga, whose son was born at a Kaiser facility, said she wanted other moms-to-be to know who was caring for their babies. She snapped pictures of Linthicum's profile and the three comments, then shared all of it on Facebook.
“How can we trust our lives, the lives of our black and brown babies to these people?” she wrote in her post. “Nurses are supposed to help people not be happy when people die.”
After seeing Arechiga’s March 23 post, Kaiser officials said they would investigate this “serious matter.” By Friday, the company told The Sacramento Bee that the nurse was no longer with the organization.
Kaiser Vice President Yvette Radford said in a prepared statement: "Kaiser Permanente does not tolerate hate or discrimination and has a long history of embracing diversity and inclusion. … We are very much a part of the wonderful and rich diversity of the communities we serve and feel a deep responsibility to them. We are deeply saddened by the events associated with Stephon Clark’s death, and will continue to do our part to make sure the community is healthy, safe and inclusive."
Legal experts say that employees of private companies do not enjoy unfettered First Amendment protections when it comes to their speech. Employment attorney Julia L. Jenness of Boutin Jones said private employers have the right to determine whether an employee’s off-duty conduct is harassing or discriminatory and whether the impact of that behavior bleeds into the employment relationship.
Workplace consultant S. Chris Edmonds, author of “The Culture Engine,” said that employees are no longer purely individuals. Everything said or done on social media, he said, can be viewed, judged and documented for decades to come.
“We are linked to our employers quickly and deeply,” Edmonds said. “And what we say or do reflects on our employers.”
Linthicum has not responded to The Bee’s attempts to reach her. By 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, she had raised roughly $23,300 of her $25,000 GoFundMe.com goal. The page benefiting the Southern Poverty Law Center had $2,675 in pledges.
Arechiga said she hasn’t started a crowdfunding effort but that she received a $250 check from a supporter who wanted to encourage her to continue her efforts. That’s been a little difficult lately, however, Arechiga said.
After she spotlighted Linthicum’s comments, someone made a complaint to Facebook that her posts had violated community standards, she said, and the company is preventing her from posting.