Tags: EEOC | Gadsden Flag | Racial Harassment

EEOC Says 'Don't Tread On Me' Flag May Be Racial Harassment

Image: EEOC Says 'Don't Tread On Me' Flag May Be Racial Harassment

A "Don't Tread On Me" flag flies at the entrance of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016, near Burns, Ore. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

By    |   Friday, 05 Aug 2016 04:21 PM

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is investigating a complaint from a black employee over a coworker's hat depicting a coiled snake emblazoned with the words "Don't Tread On Me," also known as the Gadsden flag.

According to the complaint to the EEOC in January 2014, the Gadsden flag is a "historical indicator of white resentment against blacks stemming largely from the tea party," according to a report in the The Washington Post.

But the yellow flag originated during the American Revolution and its message was directed at the English who ruled the colonies.

The EEOC said in its decision on the complaint that although the flag originated "in a non-racial context" and has "been used to express various non-racial sentiments," that "it also has since been sometimes interpreted to convey racially-tinged messages in some contexts."

The commission referred to two cases where the Gadsden flag was used in a racial context.

In June 2014, Las Vegas spree shooters who were associated with white supremacist groups draped the flag — and swastikas — over the bodies of two slain police officers, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Both officers were white, NBC News reported at the time.

African-American firefighters in New Haven complained about the display of the Gadsden flag in an office at the fire training academy, calling it racially insensitive. The flag was taken down, but officials at the academy claimed they hung it to show support for the military, which displayed versions of the flag during the American Revolution.

The commission concluded that more information was needed to deliver their final determination.

"In light of the ambiguity in the current meaning of this symbol, we find that complainant's claim must be investigated to determine the specific context in which (the coworker) displayed the symbol in the workplace," the EEOC said.

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is investigating a complaint from a black employee over a coworker's hat depicting a coiled snake emblazoned with the words "Don't Tread On Me," also known as the Gadsden flag.
EEOC, Gadsden Flag, Racial Harassment
303
2016-21-05
Friday, 05 Aug 2016 04:21 PM
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