A Washington state county informed its employees last month that they needed to keep Christmas and Hanukkah decorations out of their virtual meeting backgrounds because of how other employees would perceive it.
The human resources officer for King County in Washington issued a memo, “Guidelines for Holiday Decorations for King County Employees,” last month that said employees should “consider the likely effect” religiously themed decorations would have on their fellow employees, according to Seattle-based conservative talk show host Jason Rantz.
“Before adding any decorations to your workspace (including your virtual workspace), consider the likely effect of such decorations on all of the employees in and outside your work group,” the memo reportedly said. “Some employees may not share your religion, practice any religion, or share your enthusiasm for holiday decorations. Displays of religious symbols may only be displayed in an employee’s personal workspace. Religious symbols should not be displayed in or as a background to an employee’s virtual workspace.”
The memo reportedly listed Stars of David, crucifixes, nativity scenes, menorahs, and other religious imagery among its banned decor. However, less overtly religious decorations such as snowflakes and trees could be featured “so long as they are not decorated with religious symbols.”
With the county seat as Seattle, King County maintains a heavy Democratic Party lean. President Joe Biden won 74% of the county’s vote in the 2020 presidential election.
The county did not respond to a request for comment from the Washington Examiner.
In an op-ed for Fox News, Hiram Sasser, an attorney for First Liberty Institute, blasted the county for what he said was a “serious infringement on the religious freedom of county employees.”
“King County’s outrageous ban on home holiday decorations is ridiculous as a policy matter,” Sasser wrote. “The secular state has nothing to fear from the menorah or the dharma wheel, particularly if those displays are within the home of the employee and simply in the background of a Zoom call.”