Florida Company Apologizes, Lifts Flag Ban

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Florida Company Apologizes, Lifts Flag Ban

Decision Comes Following News Reports, Complaints

Posted: 1:19 p.m. EDT September 17, 2001


Three days after removing American flags from employee's desks on a day of prayer and remembrance, a Boca Raton company apologized to its workers and handed out flags and patriotic lapels as they came to work Monday.

The chief executive of National Council of Compensation Insurance Holdings Inc. sent a memo to its 850 employees Friday that said company policy prohibits flags in the workplace.

NCCI spokesman Michael Bullard said that the company considered the American flag to be a political emblem, and the policy was intended to protect its employees from divisive political discussions.

"Divisive statements or actions, political or religious discussions and anything else that could be divisive or mean different things to different people are not appropriate in our work environment," CEO Bill Schrempf said in the memo.

But after news reports that the company, which compiles workers compensation insurance data, had removed 10 flags from employee cubicles Friday, management met over the weekend and decided to lift its ban, Bullard said.

Schrempf met with employees Monday morning to explain the policy change. He also apologized for not allowing them to display a flag in their work space, Bullard said.

He said that management changed its long-standing position because of employee complaints and after learning that Gov. Jeb Bush had urged Floridians to fly an American flag.

"We missed that the governor had requested that people be allowed to fly the flag," Bullard said.

He didn't know how many flags and remembrance ribbons were handed out to employees Monday.

"We had flags when they came in this morning if they wanted them, as well as red-white-and-blue lapel pins," he said.

The company observed a moment of silence in its atrium at noon Friday and allowed employees to leave work to attend religious services.

Copyright 2001 by myCFnow.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

-- PHO (owennos@bigfoot.com), September 17, 2001

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