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Thursday, October 11, 2007


MEMPHIS, TN – A counselor at a Memphis psychiatric hospital who was abruptly fired for refusing to remove Confederate license tags from his vehicle has retained the SLRC to act in a damages suit against his employer.

Paul McClaren had been a counselor at Compass Intervention Center, a residential treatment facility for young people, for ten years, all during which time he had displayed a Confederate flag license tag on his vehicle. A member of the Sons of Confederate veterans, he obtained a state-issued SCV license tag when they became available several years ago. His tags had never caused any comment or incident. But on October 1 he received an internal letter from the hospital’s CEO, Nahon McPherson, demanding that he remove his car from hospital property as long as the tags were on it. Before he could respond, McClaren began receiving “corrective action notices”, at the rate of one a day, threatening him with termination. Employees are expected to sign these forms, indicating that they have accepted “counseling”. McClaren refused to sign.

In a personal interview last Friday, McClaren asked McPherson, “Do you want me to clean out my desk?” According to McClaren, McPherson said no and advised him to “think about” his position over the weekend. But when McClaren came to work on Monday, he says he was met by McPherson and the newly hired human resources director and was terminated then and there, without notice or severance compensation of any kind.

According to McClaren, McPherson told him, “You can stop this [the termination process] right now.” McClaren replied, “So can you.”

The SLRC has said that McPherson’s suit will probably be brought as a reverse discrimination action under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. McClaren has reported his case to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Memphis attorney Jack Smith will act as local counsel.

The Southern Legal Resource Center


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