Wearing Orange Shirts Reportedly Gets 14 Law Firm Employees Fired

Wearing an Orange shirt can get you firedOn payday Fridays for the last few months, employees at a Florida law firm would don matching orange shirts and go out for a happy hour. The orange shirts were worn, they say, to make the group feel more like a group, but that's not how the company's executives saw them. They thought the bright threads were a sign of protest against the new management, and fired the group's members.

Lou Erik Ambert, a paralegal at Elizabeth R. Wellborn law firm in Deerfield Beach tried to explain to the higher-ups that the orange shirts were a harmless happy-hour tradition. (One of the fired employees, Janice Doble, is pictured at left wearing the shirt.) But bosses wouldn't budge, and the 14 employees were left without jobs, or severance.

"There is no office policy against wearing office shirts," Ambert told the Sun-Sentinel. "We had no warning."

A woman at the law office said they had "no comment."

Like most states, Florida has at-will employment. That means workers can be fired for any
reason whatsoever, as long as it isn't a specifically protected one: race, gender, religion, national origin or disability. Unfortunately for the 14 employees, shirt color is not mentioned in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

It's true that the color orange has been embraced by political or protest movements. The Orange Revolution sprung up in the Ukraine at the end of 2004, to challenge what was seen as a rigged election. Also in 2004, Israeli pro-settlement advocates wore orange shirts to protest planned withdrawal from land in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. In Northern Ireland, the Orange Order supports the continued political union of Great Britain and Ireland. And during the Beijing Olympics in 2008, protesters donned orange to highlight human rights abuses in China.

But the employees at Elizabeth R. Wellborn weren't trying to make any political statement, they say. They just wanted to boost morale on the job. "I'm a single mom with four kids," Meloney McLeod told the Sun-Sentinel, "and I'm out of a job because I wore orange today."

Janice Doble, 50, wore orange as part of a group going to happy hour. ZUMAPress.com


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Filed under: Employment News, Firings

Claire Gordon

Staff Writer

Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.

Follow Claire on Twitter. Email Claire at claire.gordon@teamaol.com. Add Claire to your Google+ circles.

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Barney Wills

orange you glad your boss isnt hasnt gone full retard yet?

...ill remove myself...

April 09 2012 at 2:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
keep the change

I would have fired her for looking annoying.

April 04 2012 at 9:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
quintondall

Just another case of extremely bad management. Any good management would have called them in and had some kind of interactive discussion with as to the whys (plural) and werefores. Failing any succes from that it would then show lack of respect for management choices or requests (I doubt this would be the case here). Either this is just an excuse to downsize the cheap way or it is really really bad. Don't cry when unions get stronger. Until our labor law gets up with the rest of the world unions are only going to get stronger. There were so many better, amicable ways to deal with this in a win win situation. A happy employee is a productive employee. ex manager/owner/boss whatever you want to call me.

March 24 2012 at 2:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to quintondall's comment
keep the change

A note to you--don't cry when you get fired for sticking your thumb in the eye of the business owner. But we all know "biting the hand that feeds you" is the long time mantra of the unions, isn't it.

April 04 2012 at 9:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to keep the change's comment
sixpakr6

Well 14 people here got fired for wearing colorful shirts. Care to explain that one, genius ? A union could have saved their jobs.

April 17 2012 at 12:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
zonkleynat

Orange you surprised?

March 22 2012 at 9:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
david

I read alot of the posts and did not read a single one that captured the real reason why they were fired.. The law firm fired them for wearing orange shirts on payday Fridays only. i.e. law firm, jail inmate orange. Meaning a protest that they were being held prisoner to the wages.

March 22 2012 at 7:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
falling apart

Fired from your job for waring an Orange shirt, let all of the law furms in the state of flordia know we the people of america will not put up with this sort of crap. shame on you >law firm. when I find your name and I asure you that I will Make Is So you never ever get a client ever again. I think after your put on Utube and recive 1,000,000. hits you might be rehireing all of these people real quick. I am a white man and right now I
can bet most of them that you fired were black workers. shame on you and your sotherin ways . fact is I will also set up a way to get most all americans to stop visiting your state all together. if you think I can not do this. dare me by not rehireing these people in the next 7 days. I rest my case.. now you have the ball and your actions will define your fucher.........

March 22 2012 at 6:35 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to falling apart's comment
eb50tj

They sure are lucky that we are not in Shakespear's time of revolution/protest... get it?

March 22 2012 at 6:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
eb50tj

yet another way "lawyers" bone society....

March 22 2012 at 6:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
indsereng

Those bad bad lawyers.. being mean to "a single mom with four kids" which was repeated over and over and over in the story. Hey I betcha' George W Bush had a lot to do with it too.. i betcha!

March 22 2012 at 6:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rebecca

I often wonder why it's okay to discriminate on the basis of age but not gender nor race. My last job at Pavillon (a drug rehab center) I was told to come in only 4 hours a day to close. Anyone who has ever worked at a restaurant knows that closing is the hardest part. 4 hours a day, 4 days a week, well, that's still only 16 hours a week and it's the hours the other employees, all younger, didn't want. As a matter of fact, 3 employees were hired specifically demanding they not work closing hours, and of course, because of their race, they also demanded breaks and insurance. Not sure they paid taxes tho.

March 22 2012 at 6:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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