Two Alabama men claim they were fired from their jobs at construction management company Turner Industries for not removing a confederate flag from their vehicles Monday.
Phillip Sims said he does not typically keep the Confederate flag on his flatbed pickup truck, but he was running late Monday and did not have a chance to remove it. When he arrived at work, his supervisor at the Decatur, Alabama, plant asked him to remove the flag, reports Alabama station WHNT News 19.
“‘Hey, we like your work here and we like you but your flag, it’s gonna have to go,’” Sims told WHNT his supervisor said. “‘I hate to be the one to tell you that, but if you don’t I’m gonna have to fire you.’”
Sims refused to take down the flag and stands by his decision. He said his former employer has offered three times to rehire him if he removes the flag, but he remains steadfast in his conviction.
“I’m unemployed now, but I still feel that I made the right decision,” he said.
The other man has not publicly commented on his termination.
Alabama has laws protecting employees First Amendment rights in the workplace, but Sims believes that it's his right to have free expression.
“It’s a statement of our heritage and it’s just my right to have it, and I don’t think that I should just give it up because somebody told me I had to,” Sims said.
An Alabama attorney also told Northern Alabama station WAAY-TV that state employers do not have to explain fireable transgressions to their employees.
“In general, Alabama is an employment-at-will state, which means employers can take action based on any reason or no reason,” attorney Teri Mastando said.
The station said Turner Industries declined to comment, referring all questions to their corporate attorney, who had not returned calls.
Confederate symbols have come down all over the South in the past weeks. Waves of state and local governments have ordered their removal in response to a mass shooting in June inside a South Carolina church that killed nine African-American worshippers and is believed to be racially motivated.
This week, Texas commissioners unanimously voted to remove Confederate symbols from a Bexar County courthouse near San Antonio Tuesday, KSAT 12 reports.