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Boulder Hospital Asks Employee To Remove Pride Flag Image Or She Was "Going To Be Fired."


Many of us that are given a work computer to use need to sign off on proper usage forms stating we will use the company's technology and internet appropriately.  My work computers even have administrative locks on them so we annoyingly need someone else to do a simple update on Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Do you have a personalized screen saver on our work computer? Is it legal in the eyes of your employer to do so? 

Michelle Hurn, now a former registered dietitian at Boulder Community Health where she was employed for a year and a half, has resigned due to what seems to be either discrimination or difference of opinion. She told  ABC7 out of Denver that the screen saver rotated between pictures of her running, her chickens, and her dog. "The last screen saver I had before this was me and my wife after we went to a wedding," said Hurn.

Hurn, whom was open at work about her being a lesbian, said after the presidential election, she chose to show her support for gay pride with a pride flag on a desktop computer at work. A co-worker complaint prompted a call from her boss insisting that the image be deleted or she would be fired, Hurn said.


“I'm certainly not looking for special treatment or preferential treatment, but to say that a symbol of equality is offensive -- I have a real problem with that and I just don't feel good working for an organization that's going to stand behind that," said Hurn.

Hurn claimed to Denver7 she spoke several times with hospital administrators, who each time refused to support her position.

“I was very surprised that HR, my boss, the director of our department, they all told me they like me, they think I'm a good dietitian, they think I do great work, but if I'm going to put the symbol back up, then they're going to start the discipline process and that I was going to be fired," said Hurn. -



Before I even read the story and as I read the title of the Denver ABC7 story, I played out the scenarios in my head as well as with an friend that deals with HR all the time. 

  • Was this a computer in her personal office? 
  • Was this a shared computer? 
  • What was the HR policy about altering the settings or what could be downloaded to the computer? 

My friend and I bounce ideas back and forth and then both read the article. At the end of the article was the following:

Representatives for Boulder Community Health said management asked the screen saver to be removed from a shared work computer due to a coworker dispute. Rob Vissers, president and CEO of Boulder Community Health, released the following statement. 

I’m writing today to share my personal feelings on the recent media report implying that Boulder Community Health is not supportive of the LGBTQI community and its allies.

BCH unequivocally supports the right of all employees to be part of a welcoming and safe workplace. We are proud to be a community owned and operated health system that reflects the deeply held values of tolerance and inclusiveness that define Boulder.

While BCH normally would not comment on specific personnel issues, important inaccuracies in a recent media report compel me to vary from that approach. An employee recently resigned from her position related to use of a shared workplace computer and a dispute with a coworker. The employee who resigned was never threatened with termination by any member of the management team or Human Resources Department at BCH. The employee was offered the opportunity to have formal or informal mediation with her coworker but declined that option and chose to resign. 

The media report also stated that the gay pride flag was on a list of offensive images that are banned at BCH. There is not and never has been such a list. It is BCH practice that communications and images in shared workspaces be neutral. The purpose of this practice is to maintain a workplace that is focused on patient care.  In this specific situation, the employee resigned rather than accept our content neutrality practice.

Unfortunately, American society is increasingly polarized and we in Boulder are not immune to that divisiveness. I am deeply saddened that this incident has caused members of our community to feel unwelcome at BCH. This is not who we are and does not represent our values.

We at BCH are proud of and deeply value the diversity and inclusiveness of our workforce, but this incident has made us realize we still have much work to do in order to provide the accepting environment our employees and patients deserve and expect. Over the next two weeks, we will hold a series of employee meetings to specifically discuss issues of workplace equality and our internal culture. These meetings represent an opportunity to reinforce the bedrock values that underlie Boulder Community Health and to listen to our community to facilitate healing and understanding. We will use this moment to move forward together.  


What are your thoughts on this? 

Should she have taken down the Pride flag image?

Should HR have done more to allow the image to remain and counsel the complaining employee about the image and that it was okay?

Should she have played out the scenario and according to her account been fired for not complying?

Do you think there was the treat of being fired over the image?

Does the company have the right to ask her to remove the image of a Pride flag or ANY image from her work computer?

Do you think there is more to this story?





So I am supposed to feel comfortable if I get injured going to a hospital where the idea of my civil rights are offensive to employees and HR agrees? Forget it.


I also work for a large company; we are not allowed to have any screen saver other than which was put on by the company. To be fair to everyone then no one should have a personal screen saver.


My company too asked me to change my screen saver: I just said to her " hope everyone else in the company is changing theirs as well" she hasn't spoken to me since but coincidence I got pulled in to a meeting with HR for being a harassment to other employees... U have to constantly be on a look out for a job you enjoy 


"Neutral" is in the eye of the beholder. If I saw a cross  on that same screen, I would not consider it neutral. Would this same scenario have have played out the same was if it was my example?  I don't think so. 

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