Small businesses are the heart of the American economy. If you are a small business owner and you hold certain beliefs, you might want to use your business property to put those beliefs on display. As long are you are not discriminating against anyone, you should be able to do that. Right? Maybe not, as one South Carolina business owner is finding out the hard way.
Around the Fourth of July holiday, Bob Michaelis, the owner of the Michaelis Mattress Company, which operates four stores, put up 10 American flags outside his Lexington store. He claims that he put the flags up to because he wants a “return to patriotism in America” because he feels it has been lost. After putting up the flags, he was visited by officers of the Lexington Police Department. They informed him that there is an ordinance in effect that allows only three flags of the same kind to be displayed at one time. The ordinance was passed in 1999 after an incident involving the Confederate flag. The police allegedly asked Michaelis to take the flags down. Although Michaelis could be subject to fines for breaking the rule, and he stated that he believes the ordinance is a good thing, it is unclear whether he removed the flags.
The Mayor of Lexington responded to the situation by saying that Michaelis had an ulterior motive for putting the flags up: a Fourth of July sale. He also mentioned that he did not want to interfere with business.
As a small business owner one of the most important aspects of day-to-day operations is compliance with the myriad of rules and regulations, federal, state and local, that your venture is subject to. Non-compliance can cause you to be sanctioned and fined. But, being aware of and ensuring that you are in compliance with these rules can be a handful. That is why it is in your best interest to retain an experienced business law attorney.