santa

Suit alleges man fired for refusing to dress as Santa

Suit alleges man fired for refusing to dress as Santa

SANFORD — A Lebanon man alleges he was fired last month by the local Wal-Mart because he refused to dress up as the store’s Santa Claus.

A spokesman for the retail giant denied the claim, which was filed this week with the Maine Human Rights Commission on behalf of Christopher Nolan.

Nolan, 27, had worked at Wal-Mart for three years, most recently as a bicycle assembler.

In his complaint, Nolan said he thought it was a joke when he was asked Dec. 8 to fill in as the store Santa Claus at the Main Street Wal-Mart. He said his co-workers were laughing.

Nolan, who described himself as an atheist who doesn’t believe in Christmas, said he laughed as well and then declined. “I said, ‘Uh, no way,’ ” he said in an interview last month.

Nolan said he was surprised when his supervisor called him later to say that Nolan had an hour to change his mind. When Nolan again refused to don the Santa suit, he said, his boss brought him into his office and told him he was fired.

“He said, ‘We have to do an exit interview,’ ” said Nolan.

Nolan provided the Portland Press Herald a copy of his exit interview form that was signed by the store manager and includes the following statement of termination from his supervisor: “Asked Chris several times to dress up as Santa Claus. Repeatly (sic) told me no and then said he would look for another job. Didn’t listen to me at all. Told him I would take him out of the system.”