In California, donations to ballot measures in amounts above $100 are public record and the LA Times published a list of contributions for and against proposition 8. Eich contributed $1,000 to the campaign in support of restricting marriage to between one man and one woman. 31 According to Eich, his support for Prop 8 stems from a personal religious commitment and was separate from his role as CEO. Before his ouster, Eich tried to assuage concerns writing, "I am committed to ensuring that Mozilla is, and will remain, a place that includes and supports everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, economic status, or religion."32
Proponents of marriage equality and gay rights advocates called for a boycott of Mozilla's flagship product, Internet browser Firefox. Internet dating site OKCupid answered the call for a boycott by blocking Firefox users from the site. When customers using Firefox attempted to access the site they received a message that read in part, "Hello there, Mozilla Firefox user. Pardon this interruption of your OkCupid experience. Mozilla's new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid."33 According to many, this is an example of free speech being used effectively to combat intolerant speech.
However, some journalists are "questioning whether the episode undercuts the well- groomed image of Silicon Valley as a marketplace of ideas and diversity of thought, and whether, in this case, the tech world surrendered to political correctness enforced through a public shaming on social media."34 Andrew Sullivan, a prominent advocate for marriage equality has objected to Eich's treatment writing, "When people’s lives and careers are subject to litmus tests, and fired if they do not publicly renounce what may well be their sincere conviction, we have crossed a line. This is McCarthyism applied by civil actors. This is the definition of intolerance."35
30 Text of Proposed Laws, http://voterguide.sos.ca.gov/past/2008/general/text-proposed-laws/text-of-proposed-laws.pdf#prop8
31 Michelle Minkoff et. al. "Proposition 8: WHo Gave Money in the Gay Marriage Battle" LA Times,http://projects.latimes.com/prop8/
32Brendan Eich, "Inclusiveness at Mozilla" Blog Presentation, March 26, 2014, https://brendaneich.com/2014/03/inclusiveness-at-mozilla/
33 Mario Aguilar, "OKCupid Tells Users Not to Use Firefox," Gizmodo, March 31, 2014, http://gizmodo.com/okcupid-tells-users-not-to-use-firefox-because-of-ceos XXXXXXXXXX
34David Crary, et. al., "Mozilla CEO resignation raises free-speech issues" USA Today, April 4, 2014, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/04/04/mozilla-ceo-resignation-free-speech/7328759/
http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/04/04/dissents-of-the-day-63/ Sullivan, "Dissents of the Day" The Dish, April 4, 2014, Andrew 35
1. Who stands to be harmed and helped by Eich's dismissal? Who stands to be harmed and helped if other businesses adopt Mozilla's employment strategy?
2. What is the employment-at-will doctrine, and how does it serve to support Mozilla's actions in this case?
3. How does the for-cause/due-process doctrine regulate the employment contract? Explain how the firing of Eich is both consistent and inconsistent with this doctrine.
4. Provide a utilitarian analysis of the use of the at-will doctrine in the Eich case. Be sure to clearly describe the utilitarian theory, including the nature of the moral good it specifies and the decision-making model it offers, and to apply the theory to the case. Since utilitarianism requires consideration of alternatives, be sure to compare the utility of the at-will doctrine to the expected utility of the for-cause doctrine in the Eich case. Since utilitarianism requires consideration of all consequences, speak to the foreseeable effects of the doctrine both in the future and in increasingly less-related cases.
5. Provide a deontological analysis of the at-will doctrine in general and of its use in the Eich case in particular. Again, clearly describe Kant's theory, including the nature of the moral good it specifies and the decision-making model it offers, and apply the theory to the case. Be sure to highlight the ways in which the deontological and utilitarian accounts differ in theory and in practice.
6. What is your personal opinion of the at-will doctrine? What is your personal opinion on the use of the at-will doctrine in the Eich case? Which theory, utilitarianism or deontological ethics, best supports your judgment about this case, and why?