Careful what flag you wave. That is advice two North Carolina ferry workers should have thought about before they displayed a Donald Trump re-election campaign flag on a state-owned vessel in July.

Both workers, one of whom was the captain of the state-owned boat, soon learned that their punishment meant horrible things for their paycheck: They were suspended for one week without pay.

The names of two people have not been released to the public.

The flag, which read “Trump 2020,” only appeared for one trip, but a passenger took a picture of it and posted it on Twitter, which prompted an investigation by the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

NCDOT was quick to assuage passengers who were offended.

“We are working with NCDOT’s Office of Employee Relations to investigate the incident, and will take the appropriate disciplinary action against those responsible,” NCDOT tweeted.

A passenger, according to the Virginia-Pilot, had posted a tweet about the flag, writing, “Is this appropriate? I don’t think so!”

NCDOT officials agreed.

As reported by WRAL, NCDOT spokesperson Andrew Barksdale said the display of the flag was “inappropriate:”

“Clearly, no matter one’s political affiliation, putting any sort of campaign material on a state-owned vessel is not appropriate.”

He’s right — it probably wasn’t appropriate. But a week without pay seems like serious overkill.

Given the nature of the time we live in, it seems the true litmus test for keeping politics out of the state and federal workplace would be when it’s a Democrat worker who is displaying support for their candidate.

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