A legal group is calling one California hospital's move to punish an employee for displaying "God Bless America" an "outrageous" action.
A retired military veteran was placed on administrative leave after he questioned his right to display "God Bless America" in his e-mail signature. The veteran, Boots Hawks, was asked to remove the statement from his signature block by his employer, Dameron Hospital, in Stockton.
When he said he wanted to obtain legal counsel about his rights, he was placed on leave for insubordination.
Brad Dacus is the president of the Pacific Justice Institute.
"Here we are right after Veterans' Day recognizing individuals like this veteran, who fought to defend freedom and liberty for our country," says Dacus, "being punished simply because he wanted to have the display 'God Bless America' on his own email signature block."
Hawks returned to his job after Veterans' Day to find his computer password suspended and lock combinations changed.
"No employee should ever be punished and disciplined for a patriotic statement like 'God Bless America,' and unfortunately this is exactly what this hospital decided to do," says the PJI spokesman.
PJI sent a strongly worded letter to supervisors reminding the hospital that Hawks has been a dedicated employee for 10 years and even earned "Employee of the Year" for his work.
The hospital has yet to respond.
Hawks worked in quality assurance at the hospital. He retired as a sergeant first class after 20 years in the U.S. Army.