CA hospital backtracks, sort of, on 'punished God Bless America' employee

Wednesday, November 20, 2013
 | 
Becky Yeh - California correspondent (OneNewsNow.com)

A California hospital that placed a veteran on leave for using "God Bless America" is now sending mixed messages about its action. 

Dameron Hospital in Stockton issued a response to a storm of press inquiries after management placed an employee on leave for questioning his rights after he was ordered to stop using "God Bless America" in his email signature. It says it no longer considers 20-year veteran and employee Boots Hawks insubordinate but continues to insist that emails cannot contain "God Bless America."

Pacific Justice Institute is representing Hawks, who has been a longtime employee at the hospital. He was suspended after telling his employer he planned to seek legal advice about his punishment. 

On its website, PJI explained the latest on its client:

The hospital also agreed to restore his pay for the two days he was placed on administrative leave, while awkwardly insisting that administrative leave implied no punishment and carried no stigma.  

"No employer should ever feel at liberty to punish their employee or send an employee without pay simply because the employee gives notice that they are going to seek legal counsel to find out what their rights are," says PJI spokesman Brad Dacus.

Dacus, Brad (PJI)He suggests employees should have a "clear understanding" that when at work they have rights under the U.S. Constitution.

The employee "has the right, at the very least, to seek counsel on whether or not their rights are violated," says Dacus.

OneNewsNow reported last week on the hospital employee's punishment. Hawks served 20 years in the U.S. Army and retired a sergeant first class. 

Attorneys say hospital management is sending a muddled message that retreats from earlier positions. Meanwhile, PJI says it will continue to press for fair and equal treatment of Hawks' speech. 

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