How to handle the situation of an employee that is identified via photo or video or a social networking site as a participant in the riot is done on a case by case basis and it will be interesting to see if any of the people fired in the initial days challenge the firing. I think that the strong emotional response to the riots by many, coupled with the photos, videos and social network posts have created a unique situation.
People are applying pressure to some of these employers to fire the involved employee and in concern for the reputation of their business they are responding quickly. In a normal process this is less likely to occur and the employee is more likely to seek professional advice and challenge the firing. This situation isn't 'normal'-the level of public shaming of the riot participants means the employers have evidence that the reputation of their business is at stake in the form of emails and letters from the public. Perhaps the people fired will prefer to avoid as much further publicity as possible while they deal with the justice system and try to figure out how to rebuild their lives, which means they are less likely, in this public arena to challenge the firing. But we shall see. Human Resources professionals should understand the legal perspective of such firings and we also know that outcomes are based on the whole picture.
I would caution employers to use less dramatic means than immediate dismissal until a proper investigation is completed but I think most HR professionals have experienced the 'knee jerk' style of response from a business owner or manager that feels the reputation or security of their business is on the line. We must be able to offer temporary bridging solutions and counsel in considering the situation objectively.
Two of the three fired have publicly admitted their participation in events although both of them seem to be struggling with understanding why their integrity is being questioned.I am saddened that some members of the public are showing the same lapse in judgement in their calls to destroy the lives of these participants, that some are employing threats and bullying to vent their anger.We may see some precedence setting in these cases in the coming months depending on how each person chooses to proceed.