Pinellas Park city officials are taking flack over their decision to fire Tom Parmentier, Jr., a public works technician, for appearing as “Tom the Tree Man” in several crude Internet videos. Parmentier appeared on shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge’s web site in a fishnet t-shirt, where he endured several “tortures,” including letting Bubba’s assistants release fire ants onto his genitals.
At least he got paid.
Though public employers do not have as much freedom to fire as pri-vate companies, they can still impose rules on their workers. Pinellas Park officials relied on a department rule prohibiting “conduct unbecoming even if it’s off-duty conduct and even if it’s not unlawful.” A city spokesman said, “There are people who basically have
a difficult time looking at him.” Even with his pants on.