HR Strange But True!
December 13, 2001
We all know that HR is never dull. But sometimes it can get downright strange...

Have a merry whatever

In Washington state, King County Executive Ron Sims finds himself the scourge - or should we say Scrooge - of many, thanks to a memo in which he urged county employees to keep the holiday season "religion-neutral."

"We at King County want to ensure that any upcoming holiday celebration at the workplace is held in a respectful, inclusive and sensitive manner that does not favor one religion over another," the memo says.

Sims suggested referring to festivities as a "holiday celebration" or a "winter celebration." Workers, he added, should wish co-workers "happy holidays."

His office was deluged with letters after the memo was posted on conservative and Catholic Web sites, according to the Seattle Times.

One headline, on the Web site of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, said: "Employees of King County, Washington, warned not to say 'Merry Christmas.'"

In reality, the Times notes, the memo Sims signed does not forbid any employee from wishing another a Merry Christmas - it just suggests that other "religious-neutral" words might be more appropriate. "We just wanted to remind people we need to be culturally sensitive and respectful of everyone this time of year," said Elaine Kraft, a spokesman for Sims.

But King County Councilman Kent Pullen, a Republican, said constituents were furious with Sims, a Democrat.

"My calendar lists Dec. 25 as Christmas Day," Pullen told the newspaper. "In our diverse society, most people of different faiths aren't offended when someone wishes them a Merry Christmas."

Source: Seattle Times

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