Thousands stormed the Capitol Building on Wednesday following a rally in Washington, D.C.

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Thousands stormed the Capitol Building on Wednesday following a rally in Washington, D.C.

Agent at Capitol Riot Faces Professional Consequences

January 8, 2021

A Chicago brokerage has cut ties with a real estate agent who participated in Wednesday's insurrection in Washington, D.C., in which rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

Chicago-based brokerage @properties took action against one of its agents, Libby Andrews, who posted on social media Wednesday about her presence at the riot. Andrews told Crain’s Chicago Business that she did not partake in violence but was part of the mob that descended on the Capitol. She said she was on the opposite side of the Capitol from rioters who forced their way inside.

“I went there to support my president,” Andrews told Crain’s. “I never saw anything destructive taking place.” She added that the group she was with was singing the national anthem and Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” and she didn’t even know there was a breach of the Capitol until later that evening after she left the site.

In a statement to Crain’s, @properties said it had received “a tremendous amount of outreach over the past several hours making us aware of the actions of one of our agents, who acknowledged on social media that she ‘stormed the Capitol’ in Washington, D.C. @properties unequivocally condemns these actions, and the company has severed ties with this agent, effective immediately.”

Andrews, who has worked with @properties part-time for about three years, posted selfies and photos of herself at the Capitol protest on Facebook. She insists she did not participate in any illegal or destructive activity. Another Chicago brokerage has offered her an affiliation.

Companies in other industries also have announced actions against employees who participated in Wednesday’s uprising. Navistar, a Maryland-based direct marketing company, said it fired an employee who was photographed wearing his company ID badge among rioters inside the Capitol. “While we support all employees’ rights to peaceful, lawful exercise of free speech, any employee demonstrating dangerous conduct that endangers the health and safety of others will no longer have an employment opportunity with Navistar Direct Marketing,” the company said in a statement to CNN.

Some companies are wrestling with how to discipline employees who posted about their involvement in the insurrection on social media. Attorneys say there’s a difference between people who attended the protest-turned-riot peacefully and those who stormed the Capitol.

Company leaders realize they have a fine line to navigate: They can’t fire someone for having different political views and exercising their First Amendment rights, attorneys say. However, state legal standards vary, and some give companies authority to act when an employee’s actions can be construed as damaging the working relationship. Some companies are consulting attorneys and considering adopting policies regarding such situations.