A groundskeeper at Suffolk County Community College on Long Island, N.Y. claims his First Amendment rights were violated when his boss told him not to wear his “Make America Great Again” hat to work.
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Salvatore Esposito has worked at the college for over a decade, but told local broadcast station News 12 Long Island that he wore a MAGA hat to work for the first time earlier this month. He said the executive dean told his boss in an email that he couldn’t wear the hat because it was a “clear political statement.”
The school later said the problem wasn’t with what Esposito’s hat said, but that groundskeepers aren’t supposed to wear hats on the job.
“Our dean kind of misspoke and he was right in saying it’s not proper work attire, but they’re under a collective bargaining agreement and they have an approved college uniform and a hat isn’t part of the approved college uniform,” Drew Biondo, Suffolk County Community College director of communications, told Newsweek. Yahoo Lifestyle has reached out to Biondo for further comment.
While Esposito has argued that other people are allowed to wear political slogans on campus, the school maintained that there are different rules for employees.
“We encourage our students to be politically active. But our employees, there are certain work rules,” Biondo said. “We are neither pro-Democrat nor pro-Republican. We’re pro-student.”
No disciplinary action was taken against Esposito, according to News 12 Long Island, and the school is working with the union to get the groundskeepers uniform hats to wear. Still, Esposito feels the issue was that his hat showed support for the president.
“I feel that the college is biased against me because of my political beliefs,” Esposito told Newsday. “They violated my First Amendment rights.”
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