BERKELEY (CBS SF) — The Berkeley hot dog shack where a protester at the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville used to work has been targeted with threats, according to authorities.
Restaurant officials on Monday confirmed that former employee Cole White resigned from Top Dog, a business with two locations in Berkeley and one in Oakland.
The resignation came after social media posts from the Twitter account @YesYoureRacist and others identified him as a participant in the “Unite the Right” rally.
Following the resignation, Berkeley police received information about a credible threat made against the business, Sgt. Andrew Frankel said.
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Police kept their eye on Top Dog’s three locations overnight and officers will be making extra patrols Monday when they can, Frankel said.
Top Dog, which has been in business since 1966, said in a statement that on Saturday “we spoke with Cole White. During that conversation Cole chose to voluntarily resign his employment with Top Dog and we accepted his resignation.”
The company said, “There have been reports that he was terminated. Those reports are false. There have been reports that Top Dog knowingly employs racists and promotes racist theology. That too is false.”
“We pride ourselves on embracing and respecting all our differences and every individual’s choice to do as that person wishes within the boundaries of the law,” Top Dog officials said. “We do respect our employees’ right to their opinions. They are free to make their own choices but must accept the responsibilities of those choices.”
“Individual freedom and voluntary exchange are core to the philosophy of Top Dog,” the company said. “We look forward to cooking the same great food for at least another 50 years.”
But according to UC Hastings law professor David Levine, White was well within his rights.
“Political activity is protected,” said Levine. “If it is on your own time and you haven’t walked off the job- that is specifically protected under the California labor code.”
In the court of public opinion however, there are no such protections.
Within hours Top Dog had flyers up at their stores announcing their opposition to the actions in Charlottesville and stating that “Cole White no longer works at Top Dog.”
The question is whether he voluntarily quit or whether he was pressured to quit.
“A discussion about your political activity might be enough for a person to feel like they have to walk away when actually the employer was intending to force you to talk away,” said Levine.
It is interesting to note that Berkeley teacher Yvette Felarca set off a firestorm was actually charged for her confrontation with neo-Nazi demonstrators in 2016 and she is still on the school roster.
“She is a public employee and public employees would be entitled to greater due process rights,” explained Levine.
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