Terminated GPAC employee talks - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Jason MIles

Terminated GPAC employee talks

Ropes still hang above the Germantown Performing Arts Center stage.  But the knots are no longer tied the way former Technical Director Matt Strampe tied them.

"A lot of different knots are used in the theater," says Strampe.

He tells Action News 5 he had no clue that tying a knot similar to a hangman's noose would cost him his job.

"If somebody had contacted me and said these knots, we think they're offensive, they would have been taken down without question," says Strampe.

Instead, an African American employee complained to a supervisor.  Germantown's City Administrator got involved.

Strampe and two part-time employees were fired.

"I had no idea that it was coming," says Strampe.

The City Administrator says it should not have come as such a shock.

"This is extremely offensive to the African American community," says Patrick Lawton.  "I can't think of anything worse and so we took appropriate action," he adds.

He says Strampe's actions bordered on intimidation, harassment, and workplace violence.  Condoning it would have sent the wrong message.  He says claiming ignorance to it's connotations doesn't cut it.

"And to say I didn't understand that or wasn't aware of that does not give these employees a pass," says Lawton.

"Mr Lawton, I don't believe what happened was right," says Strampe.  "I believe that it was just wrong," he adds.

Strampe believes his firing was both unreasonable and rash.


Click here to email Jason Miles.

  • Do you agree with the decision to fire 3 employees for tying noose-like knots in ropes above the stage at GPAC?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    Yes, firing them was the right thing to do.
    10%
    142 votes
    No, the punishment was too harsh.
    85%
    1146 votes
    I don't know, it's a tough call.
    5%
    67 votes
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