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Alabama man fired from job after pulling down pride flag

Sullivan then told the HR manager, whom he would not name, that the flag went against his religious beliefs.

Earlier this month, a worker at the Outokumpu Stainless Steel Mill in Calvert, Alabama posted a video on social media of him pulling down a pride flag while going into work, prompting him to be terminated from his job.

The individual responsible, Hunter Sullivan, spoke to APR about the incident, saying that the pride flag was “not something he was going to serve,” and cited his religious beliefs as the reason why he pulled it down. Sullivan said this was the second year in a row the pride flag was flown at his work, but he did nothing about it last year, “because I just had a baby and did not want to jeopardize my job,” he said.

Sullivan said that prior to coming into work on June 8, workers around the mill were voicing frustration over the pride flag display. He claimed that around 95 percent of the workers were on his side and disliked the flag.

Sullivan’s social media posts received many positive comments with people showing support for his action.

He said that as he arrived for work he pulled down the pride flag and afterward confessed to his coordinator, who did not believe him at first. After working for an hour, Sullivan was then sent home for three days after the coordinator realized what happened.

As he left work, Sullivan revealed he pulled down the flag for a second time.

Sullivan then said that Outokompu called and scheduled a meeting with him for Wednesday, June 14 prior to him working that day, and as he went in for the meeting he pulled the flag down a third time.

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Sullivan then told the HR manager, whom he would not name, that the flag went against his religious beliefs. Sullivan also said he took his Bible to the meeting along with eight verses if he needed to quote them.

“It’s a religious attack,” Sullivan told APR, paraphrasing his discussion during the meeting. “They’re in this book, right? Here a reason why that should not be flying, and because by me working and making you money, that’s empowering you to fly that flag.”

Sullivan then stated the pride flag was absolutely political and asked the HR manager to either put up a Christian flag or Black Lives Matter flag. The HR manager told him no because religion and politics were not allowed, according to Sullivan,

Sullivan said the HR manager kept persuading Sullivan to say he resigned from the job, but Sullivan told him he wasn’t quitting. Sullivan then pulled out a recorder because he felt the HR manager was trying to put words in his mouth. According to Sullivan, the HR manager finally told him he was terminated because “you believe you can’t work at a place everyone is loved and tolerated.”

APR asked Sullivan what was political about the pride flag, and after pondering for a few seconds, he responded with “no comment.” Sullivan also revealed to APR he has gotten lawyers involved.

APR reached out to Outokompu’s HR Department and spoke to one individual who said they would get back to us. However, no one reached out as of the article’s publication.

APR also attempted to speak to an individual who identified as LGBTQ+ that worked at Outokompu, but no one replied. 

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LGBTQ+ people across the country have faced an elevated level of discrimination over the year, including in Alabama, with many anti-LGBTQ+ laws being introduced or passed. The Human Rights Campaign declared a state of emergency on June 6 for LGBTQ+ people in response to the rising hate.

Extremist hate groups have also taken to destroying, stealing and burning pride flags across the country.

Patrick Darrington is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected].

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