Christian employee in Florida says gay pride flag 'nearly unbearable'

The LGBT pride flag raised in Hillsborough County Center in Tampa, Florida could offend Christian employees, a county commissioner said, and he asked if it should be taken down.

Supporters of gay marriage wave the rainbow flag after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the U.S. Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry at the Supreme Court in Washington June 26, 2015. | REUTERS / Joshua Roberts

"My office recently received an anonymous phone call from a county employee stating that, because of her strong Christian beliefs, it will be nearly unbearable for her pass the 'pride' flag each morning as she enters the workplace," Commissioner Stacy White said in a letter to human relations director Peggy Rowe, as posted on Tampa Bay Times. "She clearly indicated that the display of that flag, for her, has created a hostile work environment."

He said that the decision of the commissioners to raise the flag "has violated the workplace rights of some of our employees" and called it a "divisive, politically-charged symbol being displayed at our workplace." He asked Rowe if this could be an HR issue; if so, then he asked if a special meeting to could be held "to discuss the unforeseen consequences of this display" and that another vote be taken.

Even if it is not an HR issue, White said that County Administrator Mike Merrill allowed the commissioners to vote whether to raise the flag or not without reminding them that it could still be a problem for some employees.

"It is still – in my view – unconscionable that the county administrator didn't express to the board that this divisive symbol might create an uncomfortable workplace environment for many of his employees," he wrote.

Merrill, however, said in a memo to the county commissioners that he was "not aware of any employee complaint or concern having been expressed prior to the Board's action."

"I believe that I had no reasonable basis to believe that the Board's action would create a hostile or uncomfortable work environment," Merrill wrote.

The rainbow flag was raised a few days after the mass shooting at the Pulse gay club in Orlando, which killed 49 people and injured many others. Six commissioners sans White voted on Wednesday, getting a 5-1 result in favor of flying the flag for the rest of the month, which is Gay Pride Month. They also voted that June should be recognized as the annual LGBT Pride Month, and that on June 12 each year, a candlelit vigil will be held to commemorate the victims of the mass shooting.

The flag was raised shortly after the meeting.