A Michigan man employed at the Hillsdale Bob Evans plant was fired after refusing to remove a Confederate flag from his truck, the Hillsdale Daily News reports. According to the man, his bosses at the plant forced him to remove it after receiving a single anonymous complaint.
Angela Payne, a spokeswoman for the restaurant chain, told NBC24 that the flag was “offensive to many… customers and employees.”
The employee, Wesley Rogers, was told two weeks ago to remove the flag but refused, resulting in his termination.
“They said they were doing their best to follow up on a complaint,” Rogers told the Daily News. “To make [the person who lodged the complaint] more comfortable. But I wasn’t comfortable with it. I said ‘it wasn’t coming down, no way.’ Then they showed me my way out.”
According to Payne, it isn’t his first Confederate flag-related termination — he said he was fired from a job at a sausage plant in Hillsdale after refusing to remove the flag.
“They were misunderstanding me,” Rogers told the Daily News. “A lot of people think that it’s racist. It’s not racist; it’s my heritage. I grew up in the south, in Virginia. It’s been made into a symbol of hate. I’m not hanging it because I’m a racist. I’m handing it because I’m a southerner.”
The Daily News reports that one of Rogers’s former co-workers said that Rogers had been flying the flag since earlier this year with no issues. The co-worker added that corporate representatives met at the plant last Wednesday to inform employees that flying the flag will result in termination.
“They made it clear. Whoever flies [the Confederate flag] will face termination,” the co-worker told the Daily News. He also said that employees raised the issue and questioned supervisors, but received no explanation.
“I felt like I had the right to express myself,” Rogers told the Daily News.