MEMPHIS, Tenn (WATN) – A Tennessee man was fired after a picture showed him wearing a racially charged shirt while voting Tuesday.
Clayton Hickey was photographed wearing a shirt with the Confederate flag, a noose, and the words “Mississippi Justice.”
Up until Thursday Hickey was working as an EMT at Regional One in Memphis.
The hospital released a statement saying in part:
“We are committed to upholding our mission to provide compassionate care and exceptional services to all. This includes fostering a safe and protected work and care environment for all. Behaviors contrary to these principles are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
While Hickey wore the shirt off the job, Tennessee law says you can be fired for any reason or no reason.
“They absolutely can fire him. It’s employment at will in Tennessee and he doesn’t’t fall into a protected class,” said attorney Joe Barton.
Barton explained as long as someone was not fired for their nationality, age, sexual orientation, or religion it is legal.
He said there is potential liability for infringing on someone’s First Amendment rights but he does not see a lawsuit going that far.
Wearing the shirt was not illegal, but people say it was a bad choice.
“It’s getting a lot of attention because a lot of people think it was wrong that’s why. If people didn’t think he was wrong they probably wouldn’t care about it,” said Terral Coffey, one of Hickey’s neighbors.
WISH-TV’s sister station WATN reached out to Hickey but did not hear back.