Re­gional One fires em­ployee for vot­ing in racist T-shirt

The Commercial Appeal - - Front Page - Ron Maxey Mem­phis Com­mer­cial Ap­peal USA TO­DAY NET­WORK - TEN­NESSEE

A Mis­sis­sippi voter who came un­der fire for wear­ing an of­fen­sive T-shirt at a polling site has been ter­mi­nated from his job at Re­gional One Hos­pi­tal, the hos­pi­tal an­nounced Thurs­day.

The state­ment did not iden­tify the em­ployee by name, but he was iden­ti­fied by Buz­zFeed and on so­cial me­dia as Clay­ton John Hickey, an Olive Branch res­i­dent and for­mer Mem­phis po­lice of­fi­cer.

Re­gional One said in a tweet ear­lier Thurs­day that it was look­ing into the mat­ter and would have an up­date be­fore the end of the day. A state­ment shortly be­fore 5 p.m. said the em­ployee in ques­tion had been ter­mi­nated.

“On No­vem­ber 7, 2018, we be­came aware of a photo cir­cu­lat­ing on so­cial me­dia of an in­di­vid­ual iden­ti­fied on­line as an em­ployee of Re­gional One Health,” Angie Gold­ing, the hos­pi­tal’s di­rec­tor of cor­po­rate strate­gic com­mu­ni­ca­tions, said in the state­ment. “The Re­gional One Health le­gal and hu­man re­sources teams promptly be­gan an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into this em­ployee and to de­ter­mine if th­ese al­le­ga­tions were real and ac­cu­rate.

“We un­der­stand and ap­pre­ci­ate the in­tense feel­ings re­lated to this sit­u­a­tion, but it is our duty to per­form a thor­ough due dili­gence to ver­ify the truth.

“As of to­day, No­vem­ber 8, 2018, we have com­pleted our in­ves­ti­ga­tion and what we learned led to the ter­mi­na­tion of the em­ployee in ques­tion.”

Ef­forts to reach Hickey have been un­suc­cess­ful.

The in­ci­dent oc­curred dur­ing the midterm elec­tions Tues­day when vot­ers at the Sum­mer­shill precinct in Olive Branch pho­tographed and posted on so­cial me­dia a pic­ture of an uniden­ti­fied white man at a vot­ing ma­chine. He was wear­ing a white T-shirt with the words “Mis­sis­sippi Jus­tice” along with a pic­ture of a Con­fed­er­ate flag and a noose.

DeSoto County Elec­tion Com­mis­sioner Paul Beale con­firmed the in­ci­dent oc­curred, and both he and a spokes­woman for the Mis­sis­sippi Sec­re­tary of State’s of­fice said, de­spite ru­mors, he was not a poll worker but a voter.

Leah Rupp Smith of the Sec­re­tary of State’s of­fice said state law does spec­ify a dress code for polling lo­ca­tions. Some vot­ers ex­pressed out­rage. “I was in line with my boys at the same time,” Ash­leigh Parker said on Twit­ter. “I was dis­gusted and hor­ri­fied. We all were. He does not speak for the ma­jor­ity of our city. I wish I had spo­ken up but I didn’t want to bring at­ten­tion to him.”

In its state­ment, Re­gional One said Thurs­day it seeks to foster “a safe and pro­tected work and care en­vi­ron­ment for all. Be­hav­iors con­trary to th­ese prin­ci­ples are unac­cept­able and will not be tol­er­ated.”

Be­fore work­ing at Re­gional One, Hickey was a Mem­phis po­lice of­fi­cer. He re­signed in 2010 af­ter he was stopped with an un­der­age girl and al­co­hol in his car.

Ron Maxey cov­ers trend­ing news for The Com­mer­cial Ap­peal. Reach him at maxey@com­mer­cialap­peal.com or fol­low him on Twit­ter @rmaxey1.

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