The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently ruled that wearing a Confederate flag t-shirt is a punishable form of workplace harassment. More recently still, it considered a case that involved a complainant alleging that a coworker was guilty of workplace harassment due to the coworker repeatedly wearing a cap adorned with an insignia of the Gadsden Flag. The Flag is famous for its depiction of a coiled rattlesnake under the words “Don’t Tread On Me.” The complainant, an African-American, stated that he found the cap offensive because it was designed by a slave owner.
An unbiased examination of the historical record clearly proves that the Gadsden Flag was designed for use in the Revolutionary War, in an entirely non-racial context. Moreover, it was obviously intended to be a message to the redcoats, the British army that was virtually all Caucasian. There were no allegations that racist words or actions were directed towards the claimant (other than the wearing of that hat!). That said, keep in mind that these are cases determining the rules that all employers, public or private, must follow, or they will be subject to crushing legal liability.
Many employers probably won’t allow their employees to wear “Trump 2016” apparel now, either, in light of the rapidly chilling workplace climate. What if someone claims to be “harassed” by a “Trump 2016” bumper sticker he/she saw on a coworker’s car in the employee lot? I feel aggrieved whenever and wherever I see “Hillary 2016” merchandise, but I don’t want it banned and I don’t expect someone to pay me for the mental anguish it causes me.
What’s next, will the color red be banished from places of business and/or public property like it apparently was at the Democratic National Convention? If anything invented, built, designed, owned, used, touched, breathed on, or thought about by slaveholders in the distant past is taboo, why are we all still wearing jeans and t-shirts? Cotton, anyone? I mean, hello, right?!
What sane and prudent employer is going to risk being accused- by the Federal government- of allowing legally actionable “hostile environment harassment” to take place? It is a tragic farce that we have devolved to the point where the mildest expressions of certain points of view are considered unacceptable, yet every other Facebook post and television show is laden with f-bombs and worse. That we are allowing some people to demand that they not be exposed to opposing- or differing- ideas and opinions, is proof positive that we are heading for dark times, indeed. At this rate, anything other than synthetic, state-approved, expression will soon be verboten.
And everything will be fifty shades of (non-Christian) grey.