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Chicago Dealership Fires Salesman Over Packers Tie

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Sixteen million vehicles. That's a number that actually exceeds the total number of vehicles sold by all automakers in the United States in a year.

New job offers are coming in for a man who was fired on Monday from a Chevy dealership in suburban Chicago. The man was dismissed from his sales job for wearing a Green Bay Packers tie to work the day after the Packers beat his hometown Chicago Bears to advance to the Super Bowl.

NPR's David Schaper reports.

DAVID SCHAPER: Maybe da message here is don't mess with da Bears at work in Chicago. No one at Webb Chevrolet in suburban Oak Lawn, Illinois would comment for this story, but general manager Jerry Roberts told other news outlets he did fire salesman John Stone for continuing to wear a green and yellow Green Bay Packers' tie after he asked Stone five times to take it off.

Roberts reportedly said the tie salted the wounds of potential customers who are Bears fans, and it undermined an advertising campaign the dealership has with the Bears.

But can you really legally be fired for wearing a tie supporting the rival of the boss's favorite team?

Professor RANDY SCHMIDT (University of Chicago Law School): Unfortunately, the short answer is yes, you can.

SCHAPER: Randy Schmidt is an expert in employment law at the University of Chicago's Law School.

Prof. SCHMIDT: The law doesn't protect you in terms of sports alliances. It protects you from other things, but not from that.

SCHAPER: Those other things include religion, race, age, sex, national origin, et cetera. Now, many teams' fans describe their devotion in religious terms, but Schmidt doubts the courts would see it that way. The fired salesman is coming out of this okay, though. He's already being offered a job at a rival Chevrolet dealership.

David Schaper, NPR News, Chicago. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Schaper is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, based in Chicago, primarily covering transportation and infrastructure, as well as breaking news in Chicago and the Midwest.