Indiana welder’s life turned upside down after joking about ISIS
Anti-ISIS protest (KombizzKashani/Flickr)

In an example of how easy it is to slur someone with the dreaded ISIS label an Indiana man found himself fired for merely joking about the violent organization.

For four years Tim Simmons worked as a welder at a factory in Muncie, Indiana before he was fired after rumors spread to his employer that he was connected to the terrorist state ISIS, The Indianapolis Star reported.

Simmons told the newspaper that one day last fall a co-worker at the factory asked him about ISIS. The two workers started joking when the co-worker said Simmons was probably a member of the terror group. According to the Indy Star, Simmons then responded, “ 'OK, what if I am?' We all started laughing and joking.” Simmons told the paper that the co-worker continued to bring up ISIS with him and others for the few months that followed.

But then the co-worker— the Indy Star reached out to the worker but he or she refused to comment— asked Simmons’ help in moving. Simmons refused, and then a short while later, according to him, he was called into the human resources office.

The events that followed turned Simmons’ life upside down. After meeting with HR he was sent home from work and told he would be contacted by federal authorities.

Within two days George Sheridan, who the Indy Star reported works for the Department of Justice, visited Simmons’ home, took his social media login information and interrogated him about his travel history and other details. Later in the evening, December 16, after Sheridan’s departure, Simmons said he was contacted by his employer, Progress Rail, and fired.

The Indy Star reported, “Simmons said that since he was fired, he’s been denied unemployment claims and lost chances to be hired for other jobs when he answered truthfully about the circumstances of his termination at Progress Rail.”

Progress Rail and Sheridan declined comment to the Indianapolis Star.