Man says Home Depot fired him over God button

WEST PALM BEACH - A former cashier for The Home Depot who has been wearing a "One nation under God" button on his work apron for more than a year has been fired, he says because of the religious reference. The company claims that expressing such personal beliefs is simply not allowed.

"I've worn it for well over a year and I support my country and God," Trevor Keezor said Tuesday. "I was just doing what I think every American should do, just love my country."

The American flag button Keezer wore in the Florida store since March 2008 says "One nation under God, indivisible."

Earlier this month, he began bringing a Bible to read during his lunch break at the store in the rural town of Okeechobee, about 140 miles north of Miami. That's when he says The Home Depot management told him he would have to remove the button.

Keezer refused, and he was fired on Oct. 23, he said.

"It feels kind of like a punishment, like I was punished for just loving my country," Keezer said.

A Home Depot spokesman said Keezer was fired because he violated the company's dress code.

"This associate chose to wear a button that expressed his religious beliefs. The issue is not whether or not we agree with the message on the button," Craig Fishel said. "That's not our place to say, which is exactly why we have a blanket policy, which is long-standing and well-communicated to our associates, that only company-provided pins and badges can be worn on our aprons."

Fishel said Keezer was offered a company-approved pin that said, "United We Stand," but he declined.
Keezer's lawyer, Kara Skorupa, said she planned to sue the Atlanta-based company.

"There are federal and state laws that protect against religious discrimination," Skorupa said. "It's not like he was out in the aisles preaching to people."

Keezer said he was working at the store to earn money for college, and wore the button to support his country and his 27-year-old brother, who is in the National Guard and is set to report in December for a second tour of duty in Iraq.

Skorupa noted the slogan on Keezer's pin is straight from the Pledge of Allegiance.

"These mottos and sayings that involve God, that's part of our country and historical fabric," Skorupa said. "In God we trust is on our money."

Michael Masinter, a civil rights and employment law professor at NOVA Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, said any lawsuit over religious discrimination might be a tough one to win.

"Because it's a private business, not one that's owned and operated by the government, it doesn't have to operate under the free speech provisions of the First Amendment," Masinter said.

"But we're not talking about religious displays here," he said. "This sounds more like a political message ... Wearing a button of that sort would not easily be described as a traditional form of religious expression like wearing a cross or wearing a yarmulke."

Views: 30

Comment by Johnny on October 29, 2009 at 12:23pm
Comment by shawn brian judd on October 29, 2009 at 12:40pm
I myself would not be offended by this button,however when we all go to work for an employer we all have to follow company rules .Freedom of speech is close to every Americans heart Especially most Atheist.Home Depot is only doing what is best for the company, this young man want's to make it about his faith,but it is not. Just another example of Christians trying to push they're silly religion on others.
Comment by Johnny on October 29, 2009 at 12:42pm
"It feels kind of like a punishment, like I was punished for just loving my country," Keezer said.
What an idiot. People who make an effort to wear their religion on their sleeve, also seem to make an effort to find offenses toward their faith where none exist.

They offered the kid other company-approved buttons that supported country and/or troops; but since they lacked the religious undertone he refused them.

The area this was poorly handled, is that no one noticed it for a year; even though he was not following an existing policy, supervision failed to enforce it. Enforcement probably came as a result of someone noticing and complaining.

Skorupa noted the slogan on Keezer's pin is straight from the Pledge of Allegiance.
Here's the twist of irony that will be lost on most (cause they're too busy frothing at the mouth over a kid getting fired for a god pin). If the pin violates the company policy of 'no religious accessories' - doesn't that imply the pledge violates religious freedom and the establishment clause?

I highly doubt the kid has any chance at winning a suit. Its clearly a dress code violation, he was offered reasonable alternatives, and turned them down.
Comment by Prazzie on October 29, 2009 at 12:52pm
Yes, looks as though this was all done according to protocol, he doesn't have legal recourse.

You guys might want to start working on removing that "In God we trust" bit on your money, apparently this can be used to rewrite American history! "...that's part of our country and historical fabric..."
Comment by Johnny on October 29, 2009 at 1:01pm
You guys might want to start working on removing that "In God we trust" bit on your money, apparently this can be used to rewrite American history! "...that's part of our country and historical fabric..."
LOL! The funny, but sad thing is how many Americans think that has always been our motto, on our money, and in the pledge. While in reality its only been on money about 150 years, and motto and pledge for about 60 years.
Comment by Dave G on October 29, 2009 at 2:47pm
Precisely, Eric.
Comment by Reggie on October 29, 2009 at 10:27pm
Ugh. This guy should have been kicked in the nuts by a random woman.
Comment by Atheist Exile on October 31, 2009 at 9:48am
The only thing casting suspicion on the employer is that this didn't come to a head until the young man started reading his bible during breaks. He wore the button for a year, after all. This makes it seem that the employee was disciplined for his beliefs -- the badge could be taken as patriotic AND/OR religious but the bible-reading was definitely religious. It's as if the bible drew attention to the religious message of his button.
Comment by Skycomet the Fallen Angel on November 4, 2009 at 5:02pm
This kid has NO excuse. The company he was working for was paying him to DO HIS JOB, not to make a POLITICAL STATEMENT!! I worked for KFC... and we had some similar uniform requirements. When you go to work for a company... you can EXPECT to be handed a set of rules that you must abide by. It WOULD be discrimination if the Home Depot refused to HIRE this man for HIS RELIGION. However, they DID hire him!!! Once he was hired, if he wanted to be paid he HAD to agree to abide by the rules!! Any employee who does not agree to do so WILL be fired! The issue is NOT discrimination!!! They would have told me to remove an ATHEIST pin if I had been wearing one at KFC! This kid SHOULD have expected to be fired because the Home Depot is a private organization that [within limits] has the right who they choose to work for them and send money to in return. An employee who is obstinant, dishonest, rude, or lazy WILL be fired!! That's not just the Home Depot, that's EVERYWHERE!!! I personally don't think this kid has a case, he should have saved his money rather than paying for a lawyer. Afterall, now that he's unemployed, he might NEED that money!


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