Arapahoe County, CO. is threatening to fire a veteran Public Works employee for promoting the fact that he is an English speaking American.
Mike Gray, a heavy equipment operator, has been with the county for 16 years, and runs his own lawn service business on the side.
The problems began last spring. Gray, 50, owns a lawn service business on the side. He was routinely driving to work in his pickup truck towing a trailer that he uses to carry lawn mowing equipment for his business. On the side of his trailer, the married father of two affixed a sign that reads "Lawn Services Done With Pride!! By An English Speaking American."
The sign also gives Gray's phone number and the lettering is over a background of an American flag.
"There are a lot of people in the lawn service that are non-English speaking," Gray said. "Customers and different people were telling me that they have a hard time trying to communicate with them about the work they want done on their yards. I just want to let people know they at least can communicate with me when I do work on their property."
Gray also wears a hat that says,"US Boarder Patrol", which was a gift from his son.
County officials told Gray that the hat must go and the sign must be altered, or else he would be canned. They sent him a letter in Nov. of 2005, and it WILL blow your mind.
"Some of your conduct ... is reprehensible and discriminatory to our non-English speaking and/or Hispanic workforce. You are in violation of ... guidelines which ensure a workplace free from harassment and sensitive to the diversity of employees."
"You are required to permanently remove your cap from the workplace. It is offensive and harassing. Your business sign, if on work premises, must be completely covered at all times. This behavior is inappropriate and any further incidents of this nature may result in further disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment."
Gray has hired a lawyer, and said he is willing to fight for his First Amendment rights.
"I got a new supervisor," said Gray. "He's a politically correct, bleeding heart liberal. I believe in what I'm doing. I got to stand up for what I believe in and I don't think I'm doing a thing wrong. Of course I don't want to lose my job, but I can't back down from something I believe in. Like I say, they're just chipping away at our rights and freedoms."
Gray's lawyer is in the process of filing an injunction so that Gray can continue to wear his hat and use his sign. Lane, the lawyer, issued this statement,"When the government tries to put a gag in people's mouths because they don't like the message that's being delivered, I'd do everything in my power to stop that from happening."
I would ask why the ACLU isn't offering to pro-bono Gray's case, but I'm afraid I'd be laughed right off of this blog!
We live in the only country on Earth that does not expect immigrants to learn the language. Can you imagine if you moved to France or Germany and DEMANDED that they learn English, so that you didn't have to give up your culture? I believe the response would involve a rail...