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SDG&E Worker Fire Over Alleged Racist Symbol Featured in Monica Lewinsky Documentary

A former SDG&E worker who was fired after allegedly making a racist hand gesture that was posted on social media is being featured in an HBO Max documentary produced by Monica Lewinsky about cancel culture

NBC Universal, Inc.

In the summer of 2020, Emmanuel Cafferty was suspended and later terminated from his job at SDG&E after a picture of him was posted on Twitter that showed him in a company vehicle, a few miles away from a Black Lives Matter rally, making what some consider to be a white power hand symbol.

Cafferty, who is Mexican-American, says he was unaware of the hand gesture and was simply fidgeting while he was driving, a habit he has had for years. Now, over a year later, Cafferty says he is still unemployed and traumatized.

"I sought counseling, I did all that. I did months and months of counseling and none of it is helping. I’m in a worse situation today, 16 months later than I was that day, financially I’m on fumes," Cafferty said.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, the gesture -- made by forming a circle with the thumb and index finger, and extending and separating the other three fingers -- has been used in recent years by white supremacists to form the letters W and P but has also long been used as a sign signifying "OK" or approval. Therefore it shouldn't be assumed to be a white supremacy symbol unless there is other evidence to support those claims, according to the ADL.

"It haunts me. Like how is the rest of the world able to use this gesture freely and I’m not saying that they shouldn’t and I use something similar to it and I lose the best opportunity of my life," Cafferty said.

The man told NBC 7's Priya Sridhar he was charged, tried and convicted on social media, and said his employer jumped to conclusions.

Since NBC 7 first interviewed Cafferty, his story has captured the attention of people all over the world. He has been interviewed by dozens of organizations both large and small and now he is being featured in an HBO Max documentary produced by Monica Lewinsky about cancel culture called "15 Minutes of Shame".

"This should be a cautionary tale that anything you do can be used against you in this new court of law on social media," Cafferty said.

He is now suing SDG&E for wrongful termination.

In a statement to NBC 7, SDG&E said they stand by their decision to fire Cafferty and they look forward to answering this complaint through the legal process.

To catch the full interview with Cafferty, tune in to Politically Speaking Sunday, Oct. 10 at 9 A.M. on NBC 7.

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