Baltimore flutist fired months after social media rebuke

BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has fired its principal flutist, months after distancing itself from her controversial social media posts.

The orchestra didn’t offer a specific reasons for its decision to dismiss Emily Skala on Tuesday, but it comes six months after the orchestra publicly rebuked her for social media posts that questioned the safety of the coronavirus vaccine as well as the efficacy of face masks. She also questioned the authenticity of the presidential election results.

BSO President and CEO Peter Kjome said in a statement that Skala was fired under the progressive discipline policy agreed to with the Musicians’ Association of Metropolitan Baltimore.

“Ms. Skala has had discipline imposed upon her over these past few months for violating several policies; unfortunately, she has repeated the conduct for which she had been previously disciplined, and dismissal was the necessary and appropriate reaction to this behavior,” the statement said.

Skala had been suspended from work duties and told The Baltimore Sun she was notified by phone Tuesday that she had lost her job of 33 years.

“I’ve only ever wanted to state my truth,” Skala said. “I’m not going to publicize what I’m going to do, but I’m not going to sit passively by. The BSO can expect to hear from me.”

It isn’t clear whether “repeated conduct” in the statement refers to new social media posts.

Skala said she believes the incident that led to her dismissal occurred July 23, when she went to Meyerhoff Symphony Hall to hand in a new tax form. She was not wearing a mask and had not had a COVID-19 test as is required by BSO health protocols, but she said she hadn’t intended to go inside.

However, when she discovered that her key card had been deactivated, she attempted to open the door to hand her form to a security guard. Skala said BSO officials interpreted this as violating the terms of the suspension barring her from the building.

In February, the symphony officials issued a statement saying they did not “condone or support” the views expressed in Skala’s posts, which it perceived as conspiracy-laden, and added that her statements did not “reflect our core values or code of conduct grounded in humanity and respect.”

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