Two employees have filed a lawsuit against a residential services company after they claim they were fired for refusing to participate in the firm’s Christian prayer meetings.
The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of customer service representative Mackenzie Saunders and construction manager John McGaha, the latter of which identifies as an atheist.
The EEOC says the company in question, North Carolina-based Aurora Pro Services, unlawfully required employees to participate in religious prayer sessions as a condition of employment.
On occasion, the prayer meetings, which sometimes went for up to 45 minutes, were requested and offered ‘for poor-performing employees who were identified by name’.
The company forced all employees to attend meetings from June 2020 that included Bible readings, Christian devotionals and asked for their workers to lead their own prayers.
Aurora’s owner even took a roll call before the meetings and would reprimand those who did not attend, the lawsuit claims.
When McGaha asked to be excused from the meetings later in the year, the company docked his pay and subsequently fired him.
Surprise, surprise just a few months later they let go of Saunders after she stopped attending the meetings as they conflicted with her agnostic beliefs.
Melinda C. Dugas, regional attorney for the EEOC said: “Federal law protects employees from having to choose between their sincerely held religious beliefs and their jobs.
“Employers who sponsor prayer meetings in the workplace have a legal obligation to accommodate employees whose personal religious or spiritual views conflict with the company’s practice.”
The EEOC is seeking compensation for the employees while also seeking to end the company’s backwards Christian requirements, which are apparently part of their business model.
Their mandatory prayer meetings go against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits religious discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in the workplace.
The US Supreme Court recently upheld a man's right to pray on the football field.
Reuters reports that Joe Kennedy was sacked from his job as a state high school assistant football coach in 2015 for doing exactly this.
However in a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court believed Kennedy has a constitutional right to pray in the middle of a game.
Bremerton High School justified firing him by claiming he had violated the separation of church and state, CNN.
He challenged his sacking all the way to the Supreme Court as he claimed his first amendment rights has been violated.
Justice Neil Gorsuch rejected the local school district's concern that Kennedy's prayers would either be seen as a 'governmental endorsement of a particular religion' or that it could be 'coercive to students', according to Reuters.
“The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike,” Justice Gorsuch wrote for the majority.
He added: "Respect for religious expressions is indispensable to life in a free and diverse republic - whether those expressions take place in a sanctuary or on a field, and whether they manifest through the spoken word or a bowed head."
Featured Image Credit: Daria Kulkova / Alamy. Winking Jesus.
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