Chicago Car Salesman Fired For Wearing Packers Tie To Work

Apparently the Bears loss to Green Bay on Sunday is a sore subject in Chicago:

With Chicago reeling from Sunday’s painful playoff loss, Monday morning probably wasn’t the best time for car salesman John Stone to share his love for the Green Bay Packers with co-workers and customers.

But Stone, 34, proudly showed up for work at Webb Chevrolet in south suburban Oak Lawn wearing his green-and-yellow Packers necktie anyway.

Now he’s former car salesman John Stone.

The morning after the Chicago Bears’ hated rivals beat them at Soldier Field to advance to the Super Bowl, Webb’s general manager Jerry Roberts says he fired Stone for refusing to remove the Packers-branded tie.

The facts aren’t in dispute, only the appropriateness of the novelty neckwear.

“He said, ‘You have two options,’ ” a furious Stone said later Monday. “Remove the tie, or you’re fired.”

“When I didn’t, he said, ‘You can leave, you’re fired.’ Does that sound fair to you?”

(…)

Roberts agreed that no customers had complained about the tie when Stone was asked to remove it at 10:30 a.m., and that Stone was a good salesman who sold 14 cars last month.

But he said the tie was “salting the wounds” of Bears fans including himself and that it “makes it harder to sell cars in what’s already a competitive sales environment.”

Guys, it was just a football game.

Update: For those who may be wondering, this is most likely entirely legal. Webb was most probably an at -will employee, meaning that his employer could fire him for any reason not prohibited by state or federal non-discrimination laws (and I’m pretty sure that there isn’t civil rights protection for Packers fans under Illinois law). Assuming there isn’t some provision of state law that says otherwise, I d0ubt a wrongful termination claim would get very far. Anyone familiar with Illinois law is welcome to clarify this in the comments.

via Kevin Binversie on Twitter

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, Sports
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. The labour board is going to have a field day with this.

  2. Chris.

    I just posted an update to this addressing the legal issues. Most likely Webb was an at-will employee. meaning he could be fired for any reason that didn’t violate the civil rights laws.

  3. tom p says:

    1 loss…

    Imagine what they would do if they were Detroit fans, commit ritual sepuku?

  4. tom p says:

    I also suspect there is a job opening for him in Milwaukee.

  5. Tom.

    Imagine what they would do if they were Detroit fans, commit ritual sepuku?

    Have you seen pictures of inner city Detroit lately? I assume they’ve just been living in their own Thunderdome

  6. Ernieyeball says:

    I have worked in Illinois as an “at will employee” several times. The law also stipulates that an employee may quit “at will” for any or no reason with no notice.

  7. sam says:

    “meaning he could be fired for any reason that didn’t violate the civil rights laws.”

    Well, wouldn’t being fired for expressing you support for a pro football team count as some violation of the Free Exercise provision of the First Amendment? I know, I know, this was some private employer/employee thing, but there are some principles that are so fundamental…

  8. Sam,

    The First Amendment doesn’t apply to private entities so, the answer to your question is no.

    The “civil rights laws” I refer to are the state and federal laws against discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, age, etc.

  9. I dunno, this makes perfect sense to me. The last thing you want someone in a customer facing sales position to do is potentially incense the customer right off the bat. You’d want them to avoid ANYTHING that has the potential to produce a strong negative reaction.

  10. sam says:

    “Sam,

    The First Amendment doesn’t apply to private entities so, the answer to your question is no.”

    Jesus, Doug, it was a (semi-serious) joke.

  11. mantis says:

    As a Chicagoan, I can pretty much guarantee that a good percentage of customers strolling onto that Oak Lawn lot looking to buy a car would be rather put off by a Packers tie on the salesman.

    Way back in the day when I was an undergraduate working at a bookstore, there was a rule against wearing shirts with any printing on them. It didn’t matter if the printing was obscene or had anything to do with the products being sold. The policy was there just in case any customer might be offended by something a clerk was wearing or otherwise distracted from their purpose: buying books. And yes, you could be fired for violating it (let alone refusing to comply with supervisory direction).

  12. BigFire says:

    At least he isn’t Steve Bartman. At last check, he’s still persona non grata at Wrigley, if not in witness protection.

  13. James Joyner says:

    I’m with Stormy and mantis on this one. The guy wasn’t fired for wearing a Packers tie but for refusing, after being told several times, to take it off and replace it with something more appropriate. If I ran a dealership in Chicago, I wouldn’t want this idiot alienating my customers. Or, frankly, wearing any sort of novelty tie screaming “bozo car salesman” instead of “trustworthy professional.”

  14. Trumwill says:

    I am curious as to whether or not he would be eligible for unemployment. In my home state, you can be fired for (almost) any reason but unless it’s “with cause” you are due unemployment. Wearing a Packer tie would probably not be “with cause”, but refusing to take it off might be.

  15. PD Shaw says:

    Trumwill, Illinois is pretty liberal (pro-employee) on the issue of “with cause.” I think it behooves the employer to try to document a longer chain of problems than the last straw.

  16. PD Shaw says:

    I think there are two issues here. The employer could legally fire the employer for any reason, including simply being a Packers fan. I think we judge that as a poor business decision. Firing someone for turning away customers sounds like a smart business decision.

  17. Bernieyeball says:

    If he was a waged employee most employers pay into the Unemployment Insurance system. He can apply and see if the employer contests the claim. The UI people will do an investigation and make a determination of eligibility.
    If he is working for a commission which many sales staff do he is probably self employed and may not have a claim against the UI system.
    Workers choice.