Patriotism Punished? Virginia Shipyard Worker Fired Over Trump 2020 Hat; Air Force Vet Quits Over American Flag Mask Ban

In the wake of the Goodyear diversity training scandal in which a corporate training slide revealed that BLM attire was OK, while pro-police and pro-Trump attire is not, reports of discrimination against patriotic Americans are emerging.

According to the Daily Press, Virginia resident Dave Sunderland, 55, lost his job of eight years with a leading naval manufacturer after he refused to remove his "Trump 2020" hat prior to a shift.

This, after Sunderland said he's been wearing Trump hats to work for nearly four years as he walked from his car onto the work site, and 'sometimes for a short safety meeting at the start of his shift.'

Former Newport News Shipbuilding employee Dave Sunderland is photographed on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, in Newport News. (Kaitlin McKeown/Virginia Media)

Sunderland, 55, of York County, was fired last week after refusing to remove his hat before the safety meeting. He said the human resources department told him he violated a policy barring yard workers from “campaigning” while on the job. -Daily Press

"I wasn’t campaigning," said Sunderland, adding "I wore a ball cap. I wasn’t passing out bumper stickers. I wasn’t asking people to vote. I wasn’t doing anything, except for wearing a ball cap going to work."

Sunderland also says he saw workers with pro-Hillary t-shirts during the 2016 US election, such as the "I;m with Her" shirts.

"There’s Black Lives Matter masks that people are wearing, and nobody’s saying anything about that," he added.

A spokesman for Newport News Shipbuilding, Duane Bourne, said in an emailed statement that employees are strongly encouraged to use their own time to express political messages.

"However, as we have previously communicated to our employees, we do not allow political campaign or partisan political activities on company property, such as wearing attire with messages that include a campaign slogan," said Bourne. "Additionally, political messages, debates and commentaries on candidates and related issues should not take place on company time and interfere with normal business operations."

According to Bourne, the shipyard's policy has been in place since 2005.

Meanwhile in North Carolina, 69-year-old Air Force veteran Gary Dean has quit his job at a Havelock supermarket because his manager ordered him to stop wearing a face mask with the American flag printed on it, according to WCTI12.

Gary Dean says he left his job at the Food Lion in Havelock and is shocked the American flag would be offensive to anyone, especially in a military town. (Photo: Kate Hussey, WCTI NewsChannel 12)

Dean, who served in the US Air Force from 1970 - 1976, showed NewsChannel 12 a photo album of memories, telling the outlet: "That's my friend who was killed in Vietnam, he was a ranger," Dean said, pointing at a picture of himself and another man. "David Toler. Got shot right through the heart, they brought him home. That's an emotional subject for me, When you lose a friend that is fighting for your freedoms you get angry. You get very angry when people disrespect the flag."

According to Dean, a manager at Food Lion's approached him and told him that 'somebody was offended by the image of the American flag on the face covering,' adding that he'd been wearing it for months without issue.

When he was asked to remove it, he quit.

"As a veteran, my dad being a World War II hero, my best friend killed in Vietnam, out of respect for them I can't just say no, I'll take my flag and put it in my pocket," adding "I had to quit, out of principle."

According to Food Lion, their policy "prohibits associates from wearing clothing with writing, insignia, or symbols."