ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (CBS Tampa) – Wearing an American flag lapel pin has cost one Florida hotel employee his job.
Sean May was recently fired from his hotel-desk supervisor job at the Marriott Casa Monica hotel in St. Augustine, Fla., for wearing an American flag pin, which violated the hotel’s “personal appearances” policy that bans employees from wearing badges or pins. WTSP-TV reports that the 26-year-old was given a choice by the hotel on Thursday to take off the pin, which he had been wearing for two years, or lose his job.
“They’re so upset about a little pin, yet I come to work every day and flying over the hotel is a giant American flag,” May told WTSP-TV.
But the hotel is standing by its decision, while maintaining the property’s patriotism. The Casa Monica is an independently owned and operated facility run by Kessler Enterprise that has a licensing agreement with Marriott.
“The property reflects its pride in America and great patriotism by flying the Stars and Stripes high over the hotel,” the Marriott Casa Monica hotel said in an email response to WTSP-TV. “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).”
The decision has caused some controversy within the community, one with a highly-concentrated veteran population. Though the hotel has the legal right to disallow their employees from wearing an American flag pin, its inability to separate the importance and significance between an American flag pin and other pins is disheartening, according to a statement released by St. Johns County Commissioner Mark Miner to WJXT-TV.
“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,” wrote Miner, a two-time veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. “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.”
Calls and emails left for Marriott by CBS Tampa were not immediately returned.