Christian worker claims Orlando pride flag memorial creates ‘hostile work environment’
A Christian local government employee in Florida has claimed that flying a Pride flag in wake of the Orlando shootings has created a “hostile work environment”.
The Hillsborough County Commission – which just eleven years ago maintained a ban on gay pride events – voted last week to fly a rainbow flag from the top of County Center, in wake of the Orlando massacre.
The move – intended to show respect for the 49 people who lost their lives – was met with support from the LGBT community, but one employee at County Center has threatened action over the move.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Republican Commissioner Stacy White warned officials: “My office recently received an anonymous phone call from a county employee stating that, because of her strong Christian beliefs, it will be nearly unbearable for her pass the ‘pride’ flag each morning as she enters the workplace.
“She clearly indicated that the display of that flag, for her, has created a hostile work environment.”
White warned that the issue may “expose the county [to] liability” on the issue, and added: “I request that it be taken down on the basis that the board’s action has violated the workplace rights of some of our employees.”
The Commissioner continued: “From an HR perspective, it is still – in my view – unconscionable that the county administrator didn’t express to the board that this divisive symbol might create an uncomfortable workplace environment for many of his employees.”
It is unclear why a worker would anonymously complain to a Republican anti-LGBT Commissioner but not to their direct superiors or anyone who could actually respond to their concerns beyond using them to make a political point.
County Administrator Mike Merrill dismissed the concerns of liability, adding that the county is “not aware” of any employee who had formally raised issues with the flag.
He added: “I believe that I had no reasonable basis to believe that the Board’s action would create a hostile or uncomfortable work environment.”