Say you work at a non-profit and as non-profits go, it’s a laid back atmosphere most days. People come to work wearing flip flops or shorts when it is hot out. When you wear a dress, people inquire why you are dressed up. We do good work. We help kids. Sometimes on Fridays around 4pm, we drink wine in the middle of cubicle land.
Say you buy a t-shirt supporting your presidential candidate that has a picture of his face and words that say “power to the people” underneath. Say you wear this shirt to work one day because you need to do laundry and later in the afternoon you are slated to watch your nephew so you need to wear comfy clothes- hence the jeans, Chucks and t-shirt.
Say you are required that day to sit in a talk about how your brain learns and how stressed brains learn differently than non-stressed brains (very interesting topic- seriously, it was riveting). The audience is mostly comprised of fellow staff but there are some outside collaborators in the mix. Most of the morning you are sitting in a chair and no one is paying you any mind except for the couple of people who ask you where to get a shirt like that.
Say you get up to get water and when doing so, run into a person of prominence at your agency who asks you to do him a favor. That favor is not to wear your political t-shirt to work because it might “offend” people. Further, that it could potentially create a “hostile work environment.” Flustered because there is no written dress code policy and to you, the shirt is neither offensive nor hostile, you are taken aback. The authority person does go so far as to mention his political affiliation which is in line with your own.
Say you know for a fact that other people at work have worn political shirts without being spoken to and thus, feel somewhat targeted. Say you feel censored and confused- why is it okay to tell one person not to wear a shirt but not tell everyone?
Whether you support the same candidate as the person or not- would you actually be offended if you saw someone wearing a pro-Obama or pro-McCain shirt? And while I can understand leaving politics out of the work place, if there is no written or understood policy in a laid back work environment, was it right to target one person?