Video: Florida hotel worker fired for wearing American flag lapel pin

posted at 3:30 pm on October 15, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Normally in these cases, my sympathy tends to run towards employers, who have the legal right to set uniform and presentation policies, especially in public positions.  Barring the display of pins on a uniform is not unreasonable, as adopting a laissez-faire attitude might end up with a whole lot of political messages seem as though they represent the views of management rather than individual employees.  As a former mid-level manager in a corporation, I also know how difficult life can get when exceptions get made to policy, and suddenly every employee wants an exception for their own pet causes.

With all that said, why make a point of firing someone over a flag pin?

Note that the hotel doesn’t deny that this was the basis for the termination:

“The Casa Monica Hotel located in St. Augustine, Florida, is an American-based, homegrown historic hotel,” the email reads. “The property reflects its pride in America and great patriotism by flying the Stars and Stripes high over the hotel. The American flag greets every guest and employee with its symbolism of our belief in this great country.”

“However, our employee handbook clearly states, ‘No other buttons, badges, pins or insignias of any kind are permitted to be worn.’ No matter an individual’s national preference, political views or religious affiliation, it is a standard regulation which ensures equality for all Grand Performers (employees).”

Again, it’s not difficult to see how a few exceptions to this rule would result in perpetual management headaches, but the “national preference” for one’s own country doesn’t seem all that indefensible as a singular exception, either. Whatever headaches this one exception would have caused, it can’t equal the public-relations nightmare of admitting that the hotel fired someone for being a little too patriotic. One county commissioner, who served two terms in Iraq, offered some common-sense wisdom:

St. Johns county Commissioner Mark Miner issued this statement on the issue:

“The Casa Monica Hotel and Kessler Enterprise certainly have the legal right to forbid their employees from wearing an American flag pin. However, their inability to discern between the flag of our nation and other pins and buttons that their policies forbid is of great concern to me. St. Johns County is home to nearly 20,000 military veterans and is made up of an ideologically and culturally diverse population whose collective love for the United States is second to none. I want to make clear that the actions taken by the Casa Monica Hotel and Kessler Enterprise do not represent the patriotism shared by St. Johns County residents and businesses.”

“I hope Kessler Enterprise will act quickly to correct the disrespect they have shown the flag of our great nation and end the embarrassment they have brought upon St. Johns County.”

What do you think? Take the poll:

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Comment pages: 1 2

When it comes to the flag, you make an exception, simple as that. I understand the policy completely, but this one exception for the American Flag is something everyone in this country should understand otherwise they can get out.

Daemonocracy on October 15, 2011 at 9:35 PM

Option 2 is a bad choice because you don’t make an exception for an employee wearing an American flag, you amend the policy to allow wearing an American flag.

There Goes The Neighborhood on October 15, 2011 at 11:42 PM

The Hotel should accept the idea of making the American flag a part of their uniform. Then it becomes a grand statement for them after they prattle about the flag greeting all guests as they arrive.

{^_^}

herself on October 16, 2011 at 4:09 AM

Psudo Patriotic nonsense like flag pins are worthless. The Employee was warned. Don’t wear the pin or you will be fired. Think about this. If he had worn it while in the Air Force on his Uniform, he would have been just as wrong, and punished for refusing to remove it.

He admitted that he returned with the pin in place after being sent home for wearing it. That was a direct challenge to the management. That was a direct challenge to his employer. If you challenge your employer, you risk losing that employer. Everybody knows that. This dolt was dumb enough to challenge his boss. Now he’s fired. And good riddence to him. Congradulations to the hotel for standing up for it’s standards.

Before you rant on about an exemption for the American Flag, I’ll ask if you exempt that, what’s next? If you don’t exempt a pink ribbon, you’re in favor of women and men getting Breast Cancer. If you don’t exemp a red ribbon you are in favor of people gettin AIDS right? If you don’t exempt a yellow ribbon you don’t support the troops do you? Pretty soon the employees are all wearing so many symbols they have lost the crisp and professional appearance that the hotel was stiving for. Instead they look like cartoons that is the look another Florida landmark is going for.

Where does it stop? When does it stop? What is it about this silly incident that makes you think that the nation will fall if we don’t get outraged about a dummy failing to follow instructions? LEGAL AND LAWFUL instructions I might add.

He made his choice, he got his wish. Now he can wear his lapel pin to the unemployment office.

Snake307 on October 16, 2011 at 5:37 AM

Where does it stop? When does it stop?

Snake307 on October 16, 2011 at 5:37 AM

Exactly what us “psudo” patriots are sayin’, slick rick. Where the hell does it end? And this guy is no dummy. I’ll take the guy who stands up for something he has deep conviction in at the risk of losing something important in his life than the one who’s shook by the man.

RepubChica on October 16, 2011 at 9:23 AM

On U.S. soil, a tasteful presentation of Old Glory is simply not to be considered “other buttons, badges, pins or insignias of any kind”, and must automatically be excepted, and accepted.

The hotel acted stupidly.

Freelancer on October 16, 2011 at 11:04 AM

Snake, the strawman about a military person in uniform is just that. A U.S. military uniform, even those which do not already have a flag insignia included, are themselves a representation of this nation. Yes, adding a pin to a uniform is outside of regulations, but please don’t make your parallel there. The service personnel in uniform have no need to wear a pin to indicate their patriotism.

Freelancer on October 16, 2011 at 11:10 AM

Exactly what us “psudo” patriots are sayin’, slick rick. Where the hell does it end? And this guy is no dummy. I’ll take the guy who stands up for something he has deep conviction in at the risk of losing something important in his life than the one who’s shook by the man.

RepubChica on October 16, 2011 at 9:23 AM

Then you hire the guy who won’t follow instructions. I wouldn’t. I don’t need an employee who is going to disobey and go into a display of hysteronics every time I tell him his hair is getting a little long.

Snake307 on October 16, 2011 at 12:53 PM

Snake, the strawman about a military person in uniform is just that. A U.S. military uniform, even those which do not already have a flag insignia included, are themselves a representation of this nation. Yes, adding a pin to a uniform is outside of regulations, but please don’t make your parallel there. The service personnel in uniform have no need to wear a pin to indicate their patriotism.

Freelancer on October 16, 2011 at 11:10 AM

And the uniform standards for work aren’t a uniform? My question remains. Why does the Hotel need to make an exception for a psudo patriotic symbol that opens the door to a flood of exempt this or you hate X demands from every other employee? I still say that the Hotel was 100% right.

Snake307 on October 16, 2011 at 12:55 PM

insubordination is insubordination…the only real argument here is whether perhaps the hotel should alter their policy on the whole to except items like the flag or maybe a veteran’s pin…other than that, insubordination is always a fire-able offense

aic4ever on October 16, 2011 at 1:01 PM

The hotel’s discriminatory policy re American Flag pins should be noted far and wide within the military/dependent community so that those members can best determine where their temporary housing Dollars are best spent when visiting St.Augustine.

Another Drew on October 16, 2011 at 3:26 PM

It is a stupid arsed policy, but none the less it is their policy. I’m sure, as part of employment, this employee had to promise to follow all rules and regulations. Instead, he decided to break a rule that he had agreed to abide by. What he should have done is refused to work the job if he knew he could not, or would not, follow those rules and regs. Instead, he broke his word.

wolfva on October 17, 2011 at 3:38 AM

I suppose I have to support the hotel management decision to fire the guy for insubordination, since he was warned, but I also support no American ever staying at that hotel. His actions had consequences, but so do yours, A-holes.

Extrafishy on October 17, 2011 at 10:06 AM

Your poll is missing an option, Ed:

All such policies practiced by any business or institution or industry operating within the United States of American should automatically include an exception for USA Flag pins.

Anyone anywhere within the USA should have the right to honor this country by wearing its symbol.

KendraWilder on October 17, 2011 at 3:59 PM

So the hotel couldn’t just reprimand the employee and tell him to remove the pin, they had to fire him. They’re a-holes. No further proof is needed.

woodNfish on October 17, 2011 at 4:39 PM

So the hotel couldn’t just reprimand the employee and tell him to remove the pin, they had to fire him. They’re a-holes. No further proof is needed.

woodNfish on October 17, 2011 at 4:39 PM

Actually, they did. It’s in the video. The Management told him to remove the pin. He refused and was sent home for the day and told to retun retun the next day not wearing the pin. He returned wearing the pin.

Strike one was wearing the pin. Strike two was refusing to remove it. Returning with it was Strike Three and he’s out of there. How much more was the manager supposed to do regarding blatant insubordination?

Snake307 on October 17, 2011 at 7:48 PM

Comment pages: 1 2