Reporter Fired for Stand-Up Jokes Gets Job Back Because He’s Pretty Funny

Headquarters of WHYY, where Jad Sleiman worked, in Philadelphia. Good jokes — and good union support — helped a public radio reporter get his job back after he was fired over clips from his stand-up set posted on social media. As Vice reports, Jad Sleiman emerged largely victorious from an arbitration dispute with the Philadelphia NPR member, WHYY. The third-party arbitrator found that the station didn’t have “just cause” to fire Sleiman over the jokes he posted to social media, and should be reinstated. The arbitrator also ruled that some of the material was inflammatory, and should be removed from social media — but also stated that some of the jokes were pretty funny. “The one thing I’ve been told about arbitration is they usually split the baby, so nobody gets everything they want,” Sleiman said. “But what’s been on my side this whole time is the case against me has just been such bullshit.” Sleiman spent five years working at WHYY as a reporter on the health and science program, The Pulse , while pursuing stand-up on the side. He was fired last January after management found some of his clips online, deeming them offensive and a violation of the company’s social media policy. The arbitration case centered around nine bits, in which he joked about his experiences as an Arab-American and serving in the Marines, as well as politics, sex, and racism. Amazingly, in the final ruling (which Sleiman shared online ), arbitrator Lawrence S. Coburn effectively broke the most basic rule of comedy and explained Sleiman’s jokes. In doing so, he declared some funny, some not funny, and acknowledged what parts could be considered inflammatory. For instance, the joke “Pussy Transplant” — about Sleiman’s dumb Google search: “Can you be born without a pussy?” — could […]

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By Donato