Palin brawl witness says he was fired for speaking out. Does he have any recourse?

On Friday, I was told that Eric Thompson, an eyewitness to the Palin family brawl, had been fired from his job with McKenna Bros. Paving for speaking to the media about the incident. McKenna Bros. Paving is owned by twins Marc and Matt McKenna. Marc is a fellow Iron Dog racer and is friends with Todd Palin. The birthday party was for them, and was held at the house of the company’s office manager.

I quoted Thompson extensively for a story. He was also on Good Morning America. He is 56 years old, and was a project supervisor. (Full disclosure: I gave a Good Morning America producer Thompson’s number with his permission. He was reluctant to appear on camera when I spoke to him.)

The next morning, he was told that his media appearance didn’t reflect well on the company and that he was fired.

Thompson was devastated. For one, he really liked working with the McKenna brothers, whom he described as “really good guys.” Secondly, he needs the paycheck. It’s hard to find work in construction this time of the year, when companies are beginning to shed employees.

Thompson is said to have retained Kevin Fitzgerald, one of the best lawyers in the state. If that’s true, it’s unclear, what, if anything Thompson is going to do about the situation.

Fitzgerald didn’t return my calls, but I spoke to other lawyers about Thompson’s options. What I’ve been told is that Alaska is an “at will” state, basically meaning that with few exceptions, unless you have a contract or are in a union, an employer can fire you for just about any reason. But there are some exceptions. Among those is that an employer can’t fire you for gender, age, or racial discrimination. And Alaska is one of 16 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures where there are three extra protections. Read about those here.

It’s unclear if Thompson is protected in any of these, and what’s worse is that if he brings a suit and he loses, state law dictates that he pays between 20-30 percent of the lawyer’s fees for the other side. Alaska state Sen. Bill Wielechowski, who is a lawyer, said that the state used to have a public interest exception, which this might have qualified for. However, in 2003, the Legislature overturned that exception.

“Alaska is a challenging place to file a suit if you are a middle class working person,” Wielechowski said.

There a potential for a silver lining here, not for Thompson so much, but for the public and for full disclosure. If the case continues, there will likely be depositions. The Palins are among those who might be deposed.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


15 thoughts on “Palin brawl witness says he was fired for speaking out. Does he have any recourse?

  1. LysanderSpooner

    Extremely well stated and on the mark.

    That “anonymous” post is laughable and completely lacking in awareness. Palin’s approval rating before McCain came calling has nothing to do with anything now. She is a unrecognizable from the person we rallied behind and made governor.

  2. Sharon Kay

    What a dumb shallow statement about pretty vs ugly. I’m glad Amanda wrote an article about the “coveted” Palins. The problem is, many people don’t look beyond, chatty Cathy’s, or looks. So sad, how stupid many people in our society have become. It’s clear the McKenna’s are protecting the Palins and they don’t deserve someone who speaks up about the truth. Stupid followers of the Palin’s need to hear the truth.

  3. Viva

    The ‘general public’ is not their target market.

    But small local government might think twice about fiddling with their tenders if their contracts come under scrutiny in the near future because of the publicity surrounding McKennas. You can bet there is some investigating going on behind the scenes.

  4. Garand Fellow

    I am not a Palin basher, and I voted for SP two of the 3 times I was given the opportunity to do so. With no regrets, even today.

    But I strongly disagree that Amanda Coyne deserves anything but praise. The Palins seek and find publicity, and no other Alaskans have done as well financially on publicity so far as I know. That gives ample license to Amanda Coyne to report anything she may believe we want to read, and clearly she hit the mark this time – as she always does. She is not at all mean so far as I have seen, and she is equally as photogenic as anyone I know named Palin.

  5. Anonymous

    Really, Amanda? The silver lining is that the Palins may be depositioned? Meaning, what? That the salivating gossip hounds like you and your followers here might have more to devour at Palin’s expense? How cruel of you to even consider that a good thing. You helped make this news. Nowhere else would this be newsworthy. Most of the Pain haters hate simply because she is beautiful, smart and made the national spotlight, while they have never left the state. It’s the classic revenge of the ugly people on the pretty people. It’s playground politics. And, it’s mean. She had something like an 84% approval rating before McCain picked her as VP running mate. The haters hate because they’re sick and they love when other people, especially pretty people, hurt. Shadenfreude.

    As for Thompson, if he is devastated, he should have considered how his actions would reflect on his boss and friends BEFORE he sang like a canary. He’s 56, old enough to have some class and to know better. I would have fired him, too. He had to know that was a risk. He didn’t care. Now, he looks like a whiner with a victim mentality. I feel sorry for the McKenna Bros.

  6. crystalwolf

    I’m sure he can make more $ by speaking out and telling the true about the Palins and McKenna bros and Iron dog.
    Right now reports are crawling AK looking for stories! Alaskans step up and tell the truth about the Mafia Palin family!

  7. Garand Fellow

    No one filling out any government or employment form should check the Caucasian or White box. Every population, employer, organization, etc. looks better at the moment by employing minorities. Everyone is of mixed race, and no one is willing or legally able to perform or demand DNA tests to prove otherwise even if doing so is feasible. Moreover, there are no blood quantum tests or thresholds anyway.

    Checking the White box for males is so stupid that one must question whether hiring that person can really be a good idea, as checking that box says the filer doesn’t want his employer, municipality or organization to qualify for anything except being left behind. I am only the observer; it’s not just but that is the way it is.

  8. Heatywheattie

    Chiliwilli sounds like he has a man crush on the McKenna Brothers. Weird post. Thought, well, maybe it couild be Track chiming in anonymously for a moment and then realized he couldn’t write that good. Oh, well. Let’s just call it weird. I don’t think I would hire these clowns for anything.

  9. chiliwilli

    It’s a privately owned company. The owners have a right to hire and/or fire as they see fit. Following that and knowing this information, the general public has a right to choose whether or not to hire this company for their construction needs. You do need to make sure you have all the facts though. Don’t be like the vast majority and jump on the popular bandwagon or decide this man was right just because you don’t like the Palins. Do your homework before you spout.

  10. Mae

    The only poor reflection of the McKenna Bros. is their close association with the Palins.
    And now the McKenna Bros. look even worse for firing the guy. Why, because he spoke the truth about Alaska’s most narcissistic family?

  11. brbr2424

    I would be happy to contribute $25 to a gofundme campaign for Mr. Thompson and I’m sure others would do the same. Now is the time to set that kind of thing up while it is still hot news. He is a hero for being brave enough to speak out against the Palin family.

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