DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (August 5, 2016) – The EEOC is investigating whether the Revolutionary War-era Gadsden Flag could be considered a racist symbol in the workplace. In recent years, the yellow flag with its coiled snake has also become a symbol of the Tea Party.
So what’s the basis of the EEOC’s claim that the Gadsden Flag is racist?
In 2014, a black government employee filed a complaint to the EEOC alleging that he had been discriminated against by a coworker who wore a ball cap with an insignia of the Gadsden Flag; despite the fact that there was no evidence that the gentleman who wore the ball cap said or did anything racially driven towards his coworker.
The claim stated that he “found the cap to be racially offensive to African Americans because the flag was designed by Christopher Gadsden.”
The EEOC report goes on to identify Gadsden as a “slave trader & owner of slaves.”
The plaintiff “maintains that the Gadsden Flag is a ‘historical indicator of white resentment against blacks stemming largely from the Tea Party.”
In its investigation, the EEOC found that there was no evidence that the flag was created in a racial context, stating in its findings, “Moreover, it is clear that the flag and its slogan have been used to express various non-racial sentiments, such as when it is used in the modern Tea Party political movement, gun rights activism, patriotic displays, and by the military.”
Despite this, the investigation goes on, stating, “…whatever the historic origins and meanings of the symbol, it also has since been sometimes interpreted to convey racially-tinged messages in some contexts.”
Citing the “ambiguity in the current meaning” of the Gadsden Flag, the EEOC has decided to investigate this matter further to “determine the specific context.”