Fri. Sep 29th, 2023

A former Universal Music Group employee has claimed that they were fired after they refused to do their job duties “in defence of abortion rights”.

Michael Lopez, who uses they/them pronouns and who worked as a production coordinator for Universal Music Group, according to their LinkedIn, reflected on the situation in a post shared to the platform last week.

In the post, Lopez, who identifies as a “queer brown person,” claims they were fired from their job “during Pride month for speaking up in defense of abortion rights”.

Lopez then explained what happened in the lead up to their termination, revealing that they decided to speak up because they were “devastated” when the Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v Wade on Friday 24 June.

“Last Friday, like countless other folks, I was devastated by the news of the Supreme Court’s attack on abortion rights. Paired with the flood of anti-queer and anti-trans legislation, it’s been hard to process how company’s expect us to be productive while our rights are being stripped away,” Lopez wrote, before adding: “Especially when our company has been donating to several of these politicians.”

According to Lopez, they decided to protest the reversal at work.

“Every Friday, one of my tasks was to process reports for upcoming releases. This is an email list that goes out to 275 people. I don’t know who’s on it, I just knew it was the email list with the most people that I had access to,” Lopez continued, before sharing the email they sent.

In the email, Lopez reportedly wrote: “I didn’t do them today. I’m in mourning due to the attack on people with uteruses in the US. Federally guaranteed access to abortion is gone.”

The former employee then claimed that they wrote: “Vivendi and Universal Music Group must stop donating to anti-abortion, anti-queer and anti-trans politicians. Politicians like Marsha Blackburn, Ken Buck, Victoria Spartz, etc. Or expect more unproductive days,” before signing off the email: “Yours in fury.”

According to the worker, in the “immediate aftermath,” they received “several supportive emails” from their coworkers. However, they said they also received a call from a manager telling them to take the rest of the day off, which they said they took as a sign they might get fired.

“I appreciate the love from my coworkers, and I figured, based on management’s response, there was a good possibility I might be fired as a result. But I was proud of letting allies know that our company has been donating to these politicians,” they wrote.

Lopez said they were told they were let go during a “surprise” Zoom call with human resources the following day, during which they said HR told them they were being terminated for not doing their job, “disrupting the day of 275 people and poor judgement”.

After being told to log out, and anticipating the company would take their laptop back “very soon,” Lopez said they decided to send another email to the email list, in which they allegedly revealed they had been terminated and claimed they were fired for “speaking in support of abortion rights”.

“Hey ya’ll. Just got fired for this email from Friday, so they’re letting you know where they stand on employees speaking out on politicians that support marginalisation for folks like me,” Lopez wrote in the email, according to their LinkedIn post. “A brown queer person terminated during Pride month speaking in support of abortion rights. Seems like that’s exactly what America is all about right now.”

Lopez then concluded the post explaining that they don’t speak for their former company, but speak for themselves and other employees “that will suffer under these discriminatory laws”.

“Their actions today, their silence on Friday are indicative of their motivations. Profit at all costs. Solidarity, only if it’s profitable. And above all of that is maintaining the status quo and saying f**k you to the working class. Because that’s what happened today,” they added.

On LinkedIn, the post has been liked more than 3,000 times, with many LinkedIn users applauding Lopez for their actions and for sharing the way the company allegedly handled their concerns.

“This is very disturbing. I’m so sorry this happened to you and I applaud your bravery. People need to know this kind of stuff happens and employees deserve to know if their employer will support them, their beliefs, identities, mental health, physical health, rights and speech (so long as it’s not hateful/harmful),” one person wrote.

Another said: “I’m so sorry this happened to you. I appreciate you putting it all on the line to stay true to your beliefs.”

However, others were more divided in their opinion about Lopez’s behaviour and the company’s subsequent decision to terminate their employment. “Michael – You made a stand based upon principle. But such stands come with consequences – that’s what makes them brave. I respect your decision to withhold your labour as a form of protest, but you left your employer little choice. I don’t know how anyone could expect them not to fire you, including yourself,” someone else wrote.

The post also received countless comments from users criticising Lopez for the email, and for then posting about the experience on LinkedIn.

“Entitled much??? Well the good news is now you can mourn all you want and have no work responsibilities to be accountable for,” one person commented, while someone else said: “This is so pathetic. You’re not the hero you think you are.”

In response to the negative comments, Lopez has shared a link to the National Network of Abortion Funds.

They also revealed in response to another comment that, before the post gained traction, many of the replies were “super positive”.

“I ain’t too worried about my prospects, and I’m used to the ups and downs as a worker in the entertainment industry. Definitely thinking of pivoting to a non-profit,” they wrote.

In a statement to the New York Post, a Universal Music Group spokesperson said company policy prohibits them from discussing Lopez, before adding that the LinkedIn allegations are “inaccurate”.

“UMG has a long record of support for women’s issues,” the spokesperson said. “As we wrote to our US employees, UMG views reproductive health care as essential. In the wake of the recent US Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v Wade, the company has extended its efforts to assure that these important healthcare services remain accessible to employees. We also financially support non-profit groups working in this area and offer a match for employee’s contributions to those groups, as well.”

The Independent has contacted Lopez and UMG for comment.

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