By Associated Press - Monday, April 11, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A West Virginia water agency manager has been ordered to remove from his office wall a large flag depicting a rattlesnake and the words, “Don’t tread on me.”

Mike Duminiak, a geographic information system manager at the state Water Development Authority, put up the Gadsden flag following a grievance hearing during which he said his fellow employees harassed him, the Charleston Gazette-Mail (https://bit.ly/1Vj2Lv1 ) reported.

Chris Jarrett, the agency’s executive director, told the newspaper that the flag made some people in the office uncomfortable.

Duminiak initially refused to remove the flag, but complied after Jarrett warned that Duminiak would face “personnel action.” He called the flag dispute a “non-issue” in an email to the newspaper, and said there are bigger problems at the agency.

Earlier this year, Duminiak had filed a complaint with the West Virginia Public Employees Grievance Board against his co-workers, saying they falsely accused him of calling authorities to remove feral cats from the agency’s property. A hearing officer rejected the complaint, after which Duminiak brought the Gadsden flag to the office. Jarrett told him to remove it, but Duminiak hung it on his office wall.



The two exchanged emails about the flag, in which Duminiak asked Jarrett to show him any agency policy banning Gadsden flags. Duminiak eventually removed the flag.

Duminiak has since filed a complaint against Jarrett with the state Ethics Commission. The complaint alleges Jarrett stored personal furniture at the agency building, while charging another state agency to lease the same space. The newspaper said after it published a report on the complaint, Jarrett removed the furniture.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, https://wvgazettemail.com.

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