Worker’s Display Raises a Red Flag

Mike Seate, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Jan. 27

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One thing customers don’t expect from contractors is to have offensive racial or political opinions thrust in their faces. But that’s what a worker for Acorn Hill Contracting on the North Side is doing. His truck is adorned with a Confederate flag that stretches from one side of its rear window to the other.

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Acorn’s owner, Todd Ridenour, recognized that analogy and groaned at the prospect of his employee’s truck becoming the subject of a newspaper column.

“I’ve been brought up not to be a racist, so I don’t understand the attraction to that flag,” said an embarrassed Ridenour. “But the employee who drives that truck says he only does it because he’s not politically correct and is from a rural area, and for him, it means he’s a country boy.”

You can’t help but feel for the business owner whose employee’s exercise of free speech is offensive to some prospective customers.

Employers have no legal authority over how employees choose to decorate their personal vehicles. But what about when those vehicles are used on the job? If one of your employees advertises to the world his support for an evil system of government or a widely hated political regime, do you step in and stop it?

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But Pittsburgh being Pittsburgh, Ridenour said he’s also received several calls of support from white residents who admire his employee’s determination to display the flag.

“I’ve even had him place decals with our business name on the truck to sort of draw attention away from (the flag), but he refuses to take it down,” Ridenour said. “I guess I’d force him to if I got enough complaints.”

Mike Seate can be reached at [email protected].

E-mail Acorn Hill Contracting: [email protected]

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