When the U.S. Labor Department’s Center for Civil Rights wanted to celebrate its accomplishments last week, its managers threw the staff a football-themed tailgate party in the office parking lot.
The invite, distributed across the agency’s official email system, had all the rah-rah of a playoff game. “Celebrate a championship year!” it declared.
Even the regular office dress policy was relaxed. “Show your team spirit and wear your favorite sports or club theme gear and come and enjoy tailgating favorites like dips, chili, chicken wings, nachos and more game-day grub,” the invite said.
There was only stipulation: no Washington Redskins jerseys, paraphernalia or memorabilia.
“It has been respectfully requested that employees voluntarily refrain from wearing clothing or other sports memorabilia that promote Washington D.C.’s professional football team, the Redskins, or other teams that use names, characters, etc. that may portray American Indians or other cultures in a derogatory manner,” said an asterisk-marked note at the bottom of the invitation.
An email from an office manager went into greater detail about the ban, while forwarding the invite.
“While I recognize the varying opinions surrounding the name of the Washington D.C. football team, as a civil rights office, I ask us all to be particularly sensitive to names, symbols, etc., that may be considered offensive based on race, ethnicity, sex, etc.,” the email read.
“Please join me in promoting an inclusive environment for all employees and be conscientious about how we represent our values as a civil rights office.”
The email included links to statements opposing the Redskins logo from the Society of American Indian Government Employees (SAIGE) and Blacks in Government (BIG).
The two federal worker groups have asked the Office of Personnel Management to ban the use of the Redskins name or paraphernalia at government activities and to conduct training to educate federal workers on why the team name is “racially offensive.”
The Labor Department invite was sent to The Washington Times by a reader who works for the agency who found that the entire event took political correctness to a new level.
Labor officials confirmed the invite and the event, which occurred Friday. They said no tax dollars were spent on the tailgate party and that the agency does not have a formal policy on the Redskins team name.
“The Civil Rights Center is a small office, and the food was paid for by the managers, out of their pockets,” spokesman Stephen G. Barr said. “There is no DOL policy on sports teams.”
A spokesman for the Redskins had no immediate comment.
Democrats, including President Obama and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, have publicly urged Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to change the team name, a move the NFL owner has rejected.
The team has performed extensive charitable work on Indian reservations and brought forth many American Indians who says the team name is actually a source of pride.
The fight over the name has headed to the courts, where the Redskins have lost an early round.
A panel of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled 2-1 earlier this year that the name is offensive to enough minorities to strip the team of its federal trademark protection. A federal judge in July upheld the ruling.
The team is appealing in a move that could take the dispute all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.