BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Justin DeWitt, the party-endorsed Democrat who ran against U.S. Representative Garret Graves this election season, says his employer fired him before he could return to work after Election Day.
DeWitt says his supervisor at the SJB Group told him he would be laid off because the company was “downsizing" and because he had “performed poorly” in the last year. DeWitt says he was the only person laid off, adding he had received a positive performance review and a pay raise in July.
“I’ve thought about it from every angle, trying to see it from other perspectives,” DeWitt said Monday. “All the angles I can come up with, either it’s politically motivated or they’re completely horrible and clumsy with the way they do their business.”
DeWitt worked as a surveyor’s supervisor for the SJB Group, which has managed construction projects across the state since the 1950s. Since he was laid off, the company has posted a job opening for a different position on its LinkedIn page.
DeWitt says most of his coworkers and supervisors disagree with his political platform, but he says he never got into debates at the workplace. “If this is politically motivated, that’s cowardly and exactly why I wanted to run for office, to stop things like that," he said.
DeWitt says he took eight approved vacation days to run the final stretch of his campaign. He was laid off November 8.
SJB President Wilfred Barry, a registered Republican, declined to comment.
“I was getting a lot more one-on-one ‘talking to' from the boss since I qualified. That was kind of odd,” DeWitt said. “A lot more verbal criticism for simple things that other coworkers are doing as well. I just felt more targeted.”
Louisiana is an at-will work state, which means employers do not need a reason to fire their employees. DeWitt’s legal options are limited.
DeWitt says he plans to join a campaign or run for a different office next year.