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Worker at shipyard that builds US Navy aircraft carriers and submarines says he was fired after refusing to remove a Trump 2020 hat despite company policy against 'campaigning' on the job

A Virginia man says he was fired from his job at a shipyard for refusing to remove a hat supporting President Donald Trump.
Dave Sunderland, 55, was fired last week from Newport News Shipbuilding, a private firm that builds the nation's aircraft carriers and some of its submarines.
After he showed up to a meeting with the 'Trump 2020' branding emblazoned on his attire, Sunderland said the human resources department told him he violated a policy that bars yard workers from 'campaigning' while on the job. 
Sunderland said he wore the hat as he walked from his car to his work area inside the gates, and sometimes during a safety meeting at the beginning of his shift.
Dave Sunderland, 55, was fired last week from Newport News Shipbuilding. He refused to remove a Trump 2020 hat after HR said he violated a policy that bars yard workers from 'campaigning' at work
Dave Sunderland, 55, was fired last week from Newport News Shipbuilding. He refused to remove a Trump 2020 hat after HR said he violated a policy that bars yard workers from 'campaigning' at work
Sunderland said he has worn Trump hats to work every day for nearly four years and claims others have wore merchandise to support Obama and Clinton. Trump is pictured in November 2016
Sunderland said he has worn Trump hats to work every day for nearly four years and claims others have wore merchandise to support Obama and Clinton. Trump is pictured in November 2016
But by wearing the merchandise with Trump's name and the election year he doesn't see himself as part of an organized effort to influence the decision making process when it comes to how Americans will vote in November.
'I wore a ball cap. I wasn’t passing out bumper stickers. I wasn’t asking people to vote. I wasn’t doing anything,' he insisted to the Virginian-Pilot. '... Except for wearing a ball cap going to work.'
He told the newspaper he has worn Trump hats to work every day for nearly four years.
Duane Bourne, a spokesperson for Newport News Shipbuilding, said shipyard workers are strongly encouraged to participate in the political process on their own time.
'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,' Bourne told the newspaper.

The private firm builds the nation's aircraft carriers and some of its submarines. 'We do not allow political campaign or partisan political activities on company property, such as wearing attire with messages that include a campaign slogan,' a spokesperson said
The private firm builds the nation's aircraft carriers and some of its submarines. 'We do not allow political campaign or partisan political activities on company property, such as wearing attire with messages that include a campaign slogan,' a spokesperson said
President Trump makes campaign stop in North Carolina
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'Additionally, political messages, debates and commentaries on candidates and related issues should not take place on company time and interfere with normal business operations.'
The policy has been in place since 2005 and workers are made aware of it during orientation and training.
But Sunderland claims that when he moved from Ohio to work for the company in May 2012 he noticed workers wearing Obama shirts in the yard. 
Sunderland also says he has seen women wearing 'I’m with Her' shirts in reference to Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign but couldn't recall anyone wearing Biden merchandise recently.
He also mentioned the movement for racial equality as part of his defense. 
'There’s Black Lives Matter masks that people are wearing, and nobody’s saying anything about that,' he added.
Advocating for an end to violence against black people is not a partisan issue and not limited to the United States.
In the run up to the election Trump has expressed his opposition to the Black Lives Matter social movement, which started during Obama's presidency in 2013. It was launched in response to the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman. 
President Trump (center) speaks to members of the US Navy and shipyard workers on board the USS Gerald R. Ford CVN 78 at Newport News shipbuilding March 2, 2017. 'Political messages, debates and commentaries on candidates and related issues should not take place on company time and interfere with normal business operations,' the shipyard said
President Trump (center) speaks to members of the US Navy and shipyard workers on board the USS Gerald R. Ford CVN 78 at Newport News shipbuilding March 2, 2017. 'Political messages, debates and commentaries on candidates and related issues should not take place on company time and interfere with normal business operations,' the shipyard said
'There’s Black Lives Matter masks that people are wearing, and nobody’s saying anything about that,' Sunderland added. Racial injustice isn't a partisan issue. Pictured, protesters march on August 30 in Washington DC with one person carrying a sign that reads: 'Racism is so American that when you protest it, people think you're protesting America'
'There’s Black Lives Matter masks that people are wearing, and nobody’s saying anything about that,' Sunderland added. Racial injustice isn't a partisan issue. Pictured, protesters march on August 30 in Washington DC with one person carrying a sign that reads: 'Racism is so American that when you protest it, people think you're protesting America'
BLM protesters march on Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser's house
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Organizers say it is a 'push for black people’s right to live with dignity and respect' but Trump has labelled it a hate group and called Black Lives Matter murals organized by city officials a 'symbol of hate.'
As part of efforts to win reelection he has regularly linked it to the Democrats. 
In a bid to clear up confusion around whether federal companies could openly denounce systemic racism, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel announced in July: 'The Hatch Act generally allows employees to engage in BLM-related activity while on duty or in the workplace.
'An employee is not prohibited by the Hatch Act from expressing support for, or opposition to, the BLM movement while on duty or in the workplace. But the employee may not say, for example, "if you believe that Black Lives Matter, then you should vote for/against X in November."'
Running for office, hosting fundraisers, conducting campaign speeches and giving out campaign materials is forbidden as part of the Hatch Act.
Sunderland says the shipyard company has taken away his freedom of expression 'but they don’t for other folks.' 
'We investigate all reported violations of our company policies, and take definitive action based on the results of such investigations,' Newport News Shipbuilding spokesperson, Bourne, continued in an email.

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