Frank Turek and Cisco Systems’ Discrimination

by Max Andrews

Today started off as a rather normal day for me at the office until I happened to notice Dr. Frank Turek post an unsettling news update from his Twitter account.  His tweet read,

The Cisco Kid: Fired by Cisco for my political views even though they were never mentioned during work. via @townhallcom

I almost passed over it as I briefly scrolled through my feed.  The link he had shared was an open letter written by Dr. Mike S. Adams to Mr. John Chambers, Chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems Inc.  The account of what happened can be read in the letter but I’ll share a brief synopsis.  Dr. Turek was hired by Cisco back in 2008 to train in leadership techniques and team building for their Remote Operations Services team.  Dr. Turek “was fired as a vendor for his political and religious views, even though those views were never mentioned or expressed during his work at Cisco.”  What happened was one of the managers in Dr. Turek’s program Googled Turek and noticed that he had authored a book, which advocated a particular position on marriage that this manager, a self-identified homosexual, disagreed with.  A complaint was filed against Dr. Turek for not having values consistent with Cisco.

This has got to be one of the poorest responses Cisco management could have to this type of situation for there are several things that are wrong here.  According to Dr. Adams’ open letter the complaining manager discovered that Dr. Turek had written a book on same-sex marriage.  Now, North Carolina is a “right to work” or “at-will” state.  This means that an employer can terminate an employe without notice, with or without any reason at all.  However, the reasons for Dr. Turek’s termination were given as being inconsistent with Cisco’s values.  There are exceptions to North Carolina’s “at-will” employment laws.  Wrongful termination can be filed for discrimination of age; national origin; disability (physical or mental); HIV/AIDS; gender; race; religion; genetic testing; lawful use of any product during non-work hours; military service; or sickle-cell trait.  According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 discrimination is prohibited based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.  SEC. 2000e. [Section 701], the subchapter defines “religion” as follows.

(j) The term “religion” includes all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief, unless an employer demonstrates that he is unable to reasonably accommodate to an employee’s or prospective employee’s religious observance or practice without undue hardship on the conduct of the employer’s business.

I have very few credentials in legal research, being that I only took a handful of undergraduate government courses, but it seems that Dr. Turek has a legitimate wrongful termination case to be made in an “at-will” state.  I will yield the legal research and precedents to those who are more credentialed and qualified than I am to explicate the legal issues here.

This whole situation is strikingly similar, perhaps even worse than the wrongful termination of NASA’s JPL information technology specialist David Coppedge.  Here’s a summary of the situation as provided by The Discovery Institute based out of Seattle, WA.

David Coppedge was an information technology specialist and system administrator on JPL’s international Cassini mission to Saturn, the most ambitious interplanetary exploration ever launched. A division of California Institute of Technology, JPL operates under a contract with the federal space agency. Coppedge held the title of “Team Lead” System Administrator on the mission until his supervisors demoted and humiliated him for advancing ideas that superiors labeled “unwelcome” and “disruptive.” Ultimately they fired him.

Coppedge was terminated for allegedly “pushing” intelligent design upon his coworkers.  JPL associated this with Coppedge’s “religious beliefs” and so Coppedge sued on grounds of religious discrimination.  (I suggest reading the articles listed for a full account).  Cisco meets a sub-par standard of internal consistency and had a knee-jerk reaction to, well they didn’t really know what it was they were reacting to.  According to Cisco Systems,

Cisco values and fosters diversity, development, and growth opportunities for staff through employee networks. These networks join employees to help reinforce the value of all aspects of each member’s personality. Valuing the differences in each person increases individual and team performance, productivity, and satisfaction. Cisco believes that its employee networks are critical to an inclusive organizational culture.

Sounds grand, right?  By all appearances this seems to be a harbor of professional, kind, and moral work atmosphere free of discrimination.  The problem is how consistent is Cisco going to be with this if it is at all possible?  Here are a few shortcomings Cisco made amidst this whole debacle.

  1. Cisco failed to comply with its own policy of “diversity” for not allowing, valuing, and fostering a view of heterosexual marriage that does not support same-sex marriage (Dr. Turek’s belief).
  2. Cisco failed to substantiate reasonable evidence of Dr. Frank Turek’s non-compliance.  The employee did not even exhaust the “evidence” (the book) prior to reporting the violation of values, which seems at this point to be hearsay at best, especially if it was not investigated by Human Resources.
  3. Cisco failed to recognize the complaining manager’s lack of fostering “diversity” and, by Cisco’s apparent standards, is just as guilty of failing to uphold these values as Dr. Turek.
  4. Cisco’s value and diversity policy is internally inconsistent, it is self-defeating.  There is absolutely no room for genuine diversity if Dr. Turek is an example of the practice of such diversity enforcement.  Reasons 1 and 3 make each party guilty of the same thing, which doesn’t permit anyone to have any expression [or beliefs unexpressed, as with Dr. Turek].  This follows that even if Cisco were to enforce any consequences for failing to comply with the value and diversity policy it would be a self-incriminating act by Cisco itself for failing to permit diversity.
  5. Essentially, tolerance and diversity is incredibly ambiguous (perhaps illusory) and inconsistently applied in Cisco Systems Inc.

I would like to call for Casey Luskin and the Discovery Institute to assist Dr. Frank Turek in legal advice (since they are not only a science think tank but also assist in legal affairs).  What makes this whole situation worse than Coppedge’s case is that none of these personal beliefs were expressed in the work atmosphere.  I stand behind Dr. Turek and Dr. Adams in their pursuit for answers, justice, and genuine equality under law.  I commend Dr. Adams for challenging Cisco CEO Mr. John Chambers to see if he is personally consistent with his company’s own policy (Chamber’s being politically conservative himself).  How far will we allow this inconsistency and self-defeating practice of “diversity” go under the guise of “tolerance”?


19 Responses to “Frank Turek and Cisco Systems’ Discrimination”

  1. He needs to contact Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice. They take cases like this. Sometimes a phone call from there is all it takes. I’ve heard him speak at a graduation and on the radio. Great man.

  2. You seemed to be confused about what diversity is. It doesn’t mean a company is going to welcome skinheads, white surpremacists or anti-gay bigots.

    • Oh wow, this is a good one. I’m going to have to devote a whole other blog post to comment on this…

      • So, Kathleen, diversity by your definition is what?
        Any opinion, lifestyle or belief AS LONG AS IT IS NOT THE CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVE one? To believe that heterosexual marriage is right and gay marriage wrong therefore makes one a “bigot” by your definition?
        You preach tolerance out of one side of your mouth and censorship out of the other and are too blind to even realize that you’re doing it.

    • But apparently they do welcome Nazi-Leftists.

    • Kathleen you are a true bigot!! how is this man a skin head, white supremacist or gay bigot? he is not! he is against SIN and spin this however it makes you feel better but homosexuality is still sin and you are still a bigot toward Christians.

  3. Actually Turek’s book qualifies as hate speech based upon its consistent use of lies and plagiarism. No one has to employ a lying bigot.

    • These comments are great. Blinkyboy, stay tuned for the next blog post on how intolerant this comment really is… so much for diversity right? I don’t think your speech just now was very loving either for someone you accuse of using hate speech.

    • Have you read the book Blinky? You wouldn’t have to resort to empty, factless snipe-and-run attack posting such as the above if you had. Fact is you simply disagree with the unexplored book’s conclusions and choose the normal gaystapo tactic of hit-and-run discriminatory rhetoric. Look in the mirror, it is there the intolerant hate-filled bigot stares.

  4. But Turek was a VENDORr, not an employee. He sold his products and services to Cisco just as any other business consultant would, and as such he has no “employment rights” that can be defended. You may disagree with Cisco’s reason for terminating the vendor relationship, but you err by making that relationship into something it clearly wasn’t. It would have been no different had Cisco ended a vendor relationship with Consultant “X” because he was a major contributor to Planned Parenthood and advocated lowering the age of consent to 12. Absent a contract to the contrary, a company has the right to select or “de-select” its vendors when and as it wishes, for any reason or for no reason at all. Surely you don’t favor government regulation of the process — or do you?

    • This is true. As a vendor he was never an employee in the first place. Few people are addressing this point. And if a church was being forced to employee an outspoken anti-theist, Turek would cry fowl. And yes I read his book.

      • I think that would entirely depend on the situation. Granted, the vendor/employee problem is a legitimate one. But let’s do a though experiment for a moment.

        Suppose a company hired someone – an anti-theist, to use your example – give seminars to a certain area of their employees – let’s say the musicians. So we have someone who is an atheist giving musical instruction to the musicians of this company. I don’t know what role these musicians play in the company, and I don’t think that it matters much. During his tenure as speaker, AT NO TIME does he/she actively engage in anti-theistic ridicule, discrimination or anything of that kind. To the contrary, everyone feels that they are actively benefiting from this person’s input and direction.

        Now suppose that one of the musicians Googles the person’s name, and discovers that they have written a book – a fairly respectful and polite book – about why they think that God does not exist, and why he or she thinks that anyone who thinks that He does is badly mistaken and wasting their lives. This may sound like an impossible mixture, but I think it is actually quite possible, given the right circumstances. Additionally, suppose this musician is an evangelical Christian. This person feels appalled at the speaker’s views, given their wild divergence from their own. Consequently, this person contacts someone higher up in the company – a fellow evangelical, or someone sympathetic to the evangelical movement – and asks the higher-up to do something about this person who, the employee feels, is guilty of being a God-hater. The higher-up promptly has a meeting with the speaker, and even more promptly terminates his or her employment with the company SOLELY on the basis that the aforementioned employee felt that the speakers atheism was “intolerant” or “hateful”. The speaker has never, to the best of anyone’s knowledge, expressed such a view in the workplace or discriminated against someone because of their religious view.

        Let’s set aside the issue of legality for a moment, and ask a much more relevant question: Is firing someone on the basis of their atheistic beliefs right or wrong? I’m inclined to think that it absolutely is. So where does that leave Turek?

  5. He was a paid consultant, a vendor not an employee. He was paid to do motivational seminars to CISCO employees, and those employees objected to his message. They have no obligation to renew contracts with him if they choose not to. He is free to market his services and accept contracts whereever he can get them, if his product isn’t selling, don’t blame the buyer! This is a real lame attempt to play the victim.

  6. Max: “You simply don’t see the principle issue here Robby.”

    Max, if you’re saying this is a legal issue, then it seems clear that Cisco did nothing illegal. If you’re now saying it’s about principles then you need to address Denis’s point about the principle of government regulation, which Turek himself has said he’s in general against. Or we can discuss Turek’s own principles regarding gays. To my eyes he loses on all three counts.


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