A protest video against Chick-fil-A that went viral two years ago has left a former CFO on food stamps, unable to find work or support his family of six.
Adam Smith, 37, says that he and his family have had to move out of their dream house on 3-1/2 acres and into a small rented home near train tracks and an airport’s flight path.
He had been making about $200,000 as CFO of the medical equipment company Vante and had restricted stock he said was worth $1 million. But now he, his wife and their four kids are scraping by on the $14 an hour his wife earns as a veterinary assistant.
The trouble started in 2012, when the Chick-fil-A CEO’s stance against same sex marriage sparked public outrage. Smith decided to weigh in on the matter, so he went to a drive through and filmed himself telling the cashier that the chain was a “hateful corporation,” adding “I don’t know how you live with yourself and work here.” He then posted it on YouTube.
The video went viral with more than 1 million views, even though he took down his post almost immediately. The voice mail at Vante was jammed with criticism and even bomb threats, and he was quickly fired from the firm.
Smith admits that he should not have berated the Chick-fil-A employee and said he has since apologized to her. But he said the video has made it impossible to find a new job.
“The only thing online about me is a 2-1/2 minute video that was not my best self,” he said, and most employers don’t want to be connected to controversy.
Smith says posting the video was a lapse in judgment, but that he’s paying too high a price for that mistake. The episode has put him in a “deep depression.”
Smith did get one job offer from a company in Portland, Oregon, and moved there with his family. But the offer was rescinded after two weeks when the company learned about the Chick-fil-A controversy, which he hadn’t told them about.
Vante’s CEO gave Smith a recommendation letter praising his work and urging that he be hired, even if Vante could no longer employ him.
“Unfortunately, sometimes a singular lapse of judgment can lead to very significant consequences,” said the letter.
Read more: CFO’s viral video leaves him on food stamps