FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 14, 2012
Contact: Anath Hartmann or Elizabeth Ray (703-683-5004)
"The resolution was designed to ensure that Bank of America applies this business practice of allowing employees to speak out on personal time to all employees and vendors, and not just those who support the current whims of corporate leadership." —Jonathan Baker, Director, Corporate Fairness Project, NOM—
Washington, D.C. — At the Bank of America 2012 annual shareholder meeting last week in Charlotte, North Carolina, Bank of America shareholder Thomas Strobhar offered a resolution from the floor to enshrine the freedom of speech of employees in the Bank of America Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Statement.
"In 2011 Bank of America wrongly released independent vendor Frank Turek from a contract because of his support, on his personal time, for marriage as the union of one man and one woman. When this action was brought to the attention of company executives they quickly stated that Mr. Turek remained a vendor in good standing. The fact remains, however, that his contract was ended because he had expressed his personal view on marriage while other bank personnel expressed their views against the traditional definition of marriage without penalty," said Jonathan Baker, Director of the National Organization for Marriage Corporate Fairness Project. "The resolution was designed to ensure that Bank of America applies this business practice of allowing employees to speak out on personal time to all employees and vendors, and not just those who support the current whims of corporate leadership. This resolution would have explicitly protected the rights of Bank of America employees who both favor and oppose gay marriage."
Bank of America Shareholder Thomas Strobhar, who attended the meeting and offered the resolution, said "Bank of America becomes a stronger company when they embrace diversity of all types, not just those that are currently in favor with pop culture. As a shareholder I simply believe that it is imprudent for a corporation to take sides on a cultural matter unrelated to their business." Strobhar continued, "Bank of America took the correct position of allowing their employees to speak out on their own time on the North Carolina Marriage Amendment, and as a shareholder I'd like to see that position added to their Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Statement so that all employees will know where they stand."
During the debate on the North Carolina Marriage Amendment, which successfully passed last Tuesday, Bank of America was faced with situations where bank employees spoke out publically on the amendment. In contrast with Dr. Turek who was fired, Bank of America correctly allowed these individuals to speak their mind, while not on company time, as was company practice. The resolution would have enshrined this practice into the Bank of America corporate policies and ensured that all employees, and not just those speaking for one side of an issue, know they are valued by the corporation and are free to speak their mind on their own time.
To schedule an interview with Jonathan Baker, Director of the Corporate Fairness Project at the National Organization for Marriage, please contact Elizabeth Ray (x130), [email protected], or Anath Hartmann, [email protected], at 703-683-5004.
Freedom of Speech Resolution
Whereas, the Bank of America Corporate Social Responsibility Report of 2010 says, "Employees with diverse backgrounds and perspectives enrich our business, engage us to better serve our customers and make us a better community partner."
Whereas, the Bank of America Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Statement states it recruits and hires candidates without regard to race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, age, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, veteran status, marital status, medical condition or disability.
Whereas, we do not offer similar assurances of non-discrimination to job candidates or employees who publicly speak out on issues of concern to them.
Whereas, by not providing free speech safeguards we potentially deprive our company of the unique intellectual heritage, characteristics and perspectives each person brings to the job.
Resolved, the shareholders request the Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Statement specifically include protection to engage in free speech.