Hotel Employee Could Lose Job for Refusing to Remove American Flag Pin

Posted: Oct 14, 2011 5:28 PM

An employee at the Casa Monica Hotel in St. Augustine, Florida was asked to leave the premises for refusing to remove an American flag pin from his jacket on Wednesday. Sean May, who has worked for more than two years at the company, now faces the harsh reality of losing his job as the front desk supervisor.

May, in an exclusive interview with, explained that following his weekly staff meeting on Wednesday -- he was unexpectedly asked by the HR Director to remove the insignia from his uniform. When he protested the policy, he was given two options: Remove the pin or go home.

As a valued and award winning employee, Sean May surprised co-workers by taking the latter course of action. The flag, he explained, symbolizes the principles and values he cherishes as an American. He could not, in short, accept an arbitrary policy that denies employees the right to express their patriotism.

“I enjoy what this country offers,” he said. “A large circle of my friends share these beliefs. I feel like a lot of people aren’t satisfied what’s going on in our country, and that’s their agenda. I’m expressing myself in a positive light.”

Yet, while the Casa Monica Hotel will probably uphold their longstanding policy -- May is not a disgruntled staff member seeking to foment turmoil. He has no political motivations, he says, or desires to boycott his employer. On the contrary, he takes pride in his job and expressed gratitude for the opportunity to work for the company. What profoundly frustrates him, though, is how the policy went unenforced for years until recently.

“I’ve been wearing this [pin] for two years,” he said. “Why is it an issue now?”

The flag, which he identifies as a ubiquitous part of American society, should not be trivialized or banned, he says. All citizens – from presidential candidates to ordinary people – wear flag pins to symbolize their patriotism. And to make matters worse, he further explained, even the owner of the company knew he wore the emblem – adding to his growing disillusionment with the sudden change in policy.

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“I don’t like no as an answer,” he said. “I’ve never been a black and white person -- you got to give me some gray area in between. It’s silly they’re upset about a pin [that is] inoffensive and unobtrusive.”

The reality is, however, that his actions might cost him his job. And while he never expected the story to make national headlines -- or bring him to the precipice of unemployment -- he’s proud for standing up for what he believes.

“I feel strongly about it. My heart is in the right place and my head is catching up to where I’ve acted. I’m going to stick to my guns,” he said.


Update: At 3:15 pm this afternoon, Sean was let go for his "failure to comply with uniform code".

To watch his interview with local news station WJXT Jacksonville click here.