By Iron Sink
BY SYDNEY MILLER
ANCHOR EMILY SPAIN
A St. Augustine, Fla., man is making the media rounds after he lost his job at the Casa Monica Hotel on Friday for refusing to remove an American Flag pin. The incident is renewing debate over political expression in the workplace.
26-year-old Sean May says he wore the pin every day during his two years at the hotel as a front desk supervisor. On Friday, hotel management asked him to remove the pin. May refused, was given an ultimatum, and ended up leaving the hotel. May told WJXT…
“They’re so upset about a little pin, and yet I come to work every day and flying over the hotel there’s a gigantic American flag.”
Networks who have reported the story have focused on the man’s patriotism behind the act.
Headlines read, “Hotel fires employee for loving his country,” and “Hotel Fires Worker for Showing Patriotism”.
But the Casa Monica Hotel points to their strictly enforced uniform policy, not the subject of the pin. The hotel responded by email, stating…
“The property reflects its pride in America and great patriotism by flying the Stars and Stripes high over the hotel…However, our employee handbook clearly states, ‘No other buttons, badges, pins or insignias of any kind are permitted to be worn.”
Despite media coverage centered on May’s side of the story, Gawker published a link to a forum where May had posted his story, and was quickly banned. May posted his story on the Something Awful forum, but wasn’t met with much sympathy by other commenters. One wrote...
“It looks obtrusive and unprofessional and needlessly patriotic in an industry where you will probably be dealing with international travelers quite frequently.”
Although May understands the reasons why he was forced to leave the hotel, he does not agree with them. He told CNN…
“Yes it is policy, I understand it is policy. I think there are times where rules are made to be bent in accordance to the situation.”
Many supporting May felt his is a first amendment issue, but May’s firing was legal. However, according to a blog on findlaw.com, this does not give an employer…
“…free rein to discipline, terminate or retaliate against employees for their speech in the workplace… Punishing an employee because of his religion is not technically a first amendment violation in the private sector, but it would be a violation of anti-discrimination laws.”
May told WJXT he doesn’t regret his decision to leave, and he has already started looking for a new job.