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Top 5 most Ridiculous Recent Firings

 5. Lowering a Flag on Memorial Day

Let’s all agree on a few things for the survival of decent society, O.K.?

Number one, do not harass coffee shop clerks who don’t stroke your holiday ego. They are not in charge of compensating for your discovery that Santa isn’t real; they’re here to make lattes.

Number two, we can and should all chew with our mouths closed.

Number three, when a soldier lowers the flag to half-mast on Memorial Day in honor of some lost friends, the absolute, literal least you can do is leave the guy alone to his ceremony.

Apparently this last was too much for a Charlotte company, which reportedly chose to fire Marine Corps veteran Allen Thornwell for doing just that. His employer said that it was disturbed by Thornwell’s “passion for the flag and (his) political affiliation,” and that’s the double edged sword of at-will employment. Thornwell will hopefully find work soon, but his employer was perfectly free to let him go.

4. Plain Old Racism

Let’s revisit social media, because it’s something we will all have to continue getting used to. As Millennials scrub their online footprints, terrified that even an innocent happy hour could cost them their job, other users take… a different approach.

Consider, for example, Jane Wood Allen, an employee of the Forsyth, Georgia school district who was fired for a Facebook post about First Lady Michelle Obama that began with “This poor Gorilla.”

Allen’s story is nothing all that rare, but it raises a particularly thorny issue. You see, while Forsyth County’s decision to fire Wood makes sense from a standpoint of damage control, it may not be legal. As a public employer, schools have to respect some First Amendment rights of their staff.

Private statements made on private time from Wood’s own computer may be well beyond the reach of a school district to punish her for… no matter how good the reason.

3. The $15,000 Firing

When is a firing just not worth it? When it costs a decent portion of the employee’s salary just to sort everything out.

Yet that’s precisely what happened with a Decatur, Ga. school after it fired a popular media clerk. In the aftermath of Susan Riley’s termination, allegedly over misuse of a school iPad, questions began popping up. To its credit, the district launched an investigation into what actually happened and whether to reverse Riley’s firing.

After $14,757 in fees to a local attorney, it finally decided that a mistake had been made.

2. Conspiracy Theories

The case of Florida Atlantic University Professor James Tracy is an interesting one. In a nutshell, Tracy was fired for his long standing campaign that the Sandy Hook shooting never happened. This includes a blog, comments in any media he can find, and what parents of one victim have described as a pattern of personal harassment.

As a result, earlier this year he was fired from his tenured position at FAU for, among other things, using his university credentials to advance his cause. His subsequent lawsuit has been dismissed without prejudice.

1. Being Gay

You’d think this wouldn’t be a problem in 2016, but here we are reporting on the case of a Minnesota banker who got fired for coming out.

After working for years in the family business, when Stephen Habberstad came out to his wife and siblings, the fallout reached well past his personal life and into his employment. During the divorce, he had to surrender enough stock to lose control of the family bank, which set the dominoes in motion for his speedy termination.