PITTSBURGH — On Wednesday, a federal appeals court ruled that Port Authority’s policy prohibiting its employees from wearing Black Lives Matter face masks was unconstitutional and violated their First Amendment rights.
Sascha Craig, a 31-year veteran of Port Authority, now Pittsburgh Regional Transit, tells Channel 11 he believes he was fired from the company back in 2020 for wearing a Black Lives Matter face mask.
“Port Authority, over the years, have more or less strong-armed their employees. And at some point in your life you have to say enough is enough,” said Craig.
Then, Craig, other employees and the union that represents them, sued PRT over their uniform policy that banned BLM clothing, jewelry, and masks.
Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, Craig was let go for timesheet fraud.
“They said I stole five and a half hours of overtime and through three days of testimony, the truth actually came out,” said Craig.
Craig fought the termination, which was later found to be wrongful and illegal.
Now, years later, Craig says he feels vindicated once again.
“I let the process run its course and we were very successful as far as the ruling,” said Craig.
According to our partners at the Tribune Review, on Wednesday, a federal appeals court ruled that PRT’s uniform policy violated their employees’ right to free speech. The decision upholds a Pittsburgh judge’s ruling last year, who called the transit company’s policy arbitrary and overbroad.
In early 2020, PRT argued thief policy was necessary to prevent disruption among employees or with customers. On Wednesday, the three-judge panel disagreed.
“Port Authority, at the end of the day, they can’t take my pension, my lifetime medical, so really what this was about was about a vendetta,” said Craig. “At the end of the day, I’m going to stand up for what I believe is right.”
Pittsburgh Regional Transit Authority’s dress code has since been removed. Channel 11 asked the company for comment on the latest ruling, and the company replied saying they are “withholding a comment at this time.”
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