Catholic Reporter Unjustly Fired in Maine

December 10, 2009

Catholic League president Bill Donohue explains why the Catholic League is defending Larry Grard:

For almost two decades, Larry Grard worked as a reporter at Maine’s Morning Sentinel. He was recently fired because he e-mailed a letter (using his own e-mail account) to the head of an advocacy organization that his boss, Bill Thompson, did not like.

To be specific, Grard, who is Catholic, was unhappy with the angry comments made by Trevor Thomas of the Human Rights Campaign following last month’s election results. Having just lost in his bid to secure gay marriage in Maine, Thomas blamed hatred of gays for the loss. Grard wrote back, blaming Thomas’ side for generating hate. That was it.

Interestingly, Grard’s wife, Lisa, who writes a bimonthly cooking column for the newspaper, was subsequently fired. It was suddenly decided that her work was “no longer a good fit.” Sounds like reprisal to us.

As a Catholic, Grard has a right to hold, express and defend the teachings of the Catholic Church with impunity. While the First Amendment does not apply to private organizations, the fact remains that if Grard can be fired for something like this, then the rights of all reporters are in jeopardy. This explains why the Portland Newspaper Guild is standing squarely behind him. So is the Catholic League. We have put Grard, and his wife, in contact with law firms that may want to sue Mr. Thompson and his newspaper.


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This also is a free speech issue. They have a right to disagree with their boss and to express their disagreements.

Did the newspaper, or Mr. Thompson himself, say that that’s why he was fired?

Always two sides, y’know.

I’d be suprised if he did. Sometimes you have to go on evidence. If a boss says he sacked someone because he didn’t like his employees opinion. That would be big news. Times that by ten if the boss is a editor of a newspaper.

Ok, fair enough. So, what reason, if any, was given?

If the reporter had a contract, then his employer is bound by the terms of the contract, whatever they happen to be.

If he had no contract, then my understanding is that he can be fired at any time for any reason or for no reason at all.

He did the wise thing by appealling to his union for help.

Did he send the email from his private account from a work computer? Recent privacy rulings on the state level (NY?) indicate that anyone doing this should expect some privacy without retribution from an employer. However, if done from work, during work hours, and from a work computer, there’s a problem there.

However, if you don’t get along with you boss, don’t give your boss any reason to fire you. And if it’s a contentious relationship, seek other employment immediately; life’s too short to agitate each other. Read the writing on the wall and move on!

And if you live in a “fire at will” state your boss has the right to fire you for any reason whatsoever. If one of my emolyees sent out emails supporting abortion using my computer and during work hours I would sack them on he spot.

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