Pedroza worked as a non-supervisory team leader in one of Cintas's uniform manufacturing plants. In 2000, Pedroza began to have ongoing problems with a co-worker, which management tried but failed to resolve. The other female employee did not like Pedroza, and found out that Pedroza was easily flustered by making quasi-sexual remarks at her. Pedroza eventually resigned, and filed this lawsuit. Cintas moved for summary judgment on all claims. The USDC held that there was insufficient evidence to create a question of material fact as to the issue of whether the harassing conduct was based on sex. In addition, the district court found that the harassing conduct was not so pervasive as to constitute a hostile work environment. Finally, the district court found that there was no adverse employment action. Pedroza abandoned her religious discrimination claim during the summary judgment process, and the USDC dismissed all of Pedroza's remaining claims. Pedroza appealed, but the USCA affirmed.
The USDC and USCA Opinions contained a couple pieces of very interesting information about this case:
First, Terri Pedroza's own psychologist testified that her low IQ scores suggested that she was borderline mentally retarded, and that Pedroza had problems understanding and communicating with others.
"Pedroza is a 'concrete person' who has difficulty understanding the subtleties of non-literal communication such as sarcasm ... ."
Second, and more interesting was the revelation that Pedroza had SECRETLY TAPE RECORDED two or more meetings with her Cintas supervisors and managers.
GROESSLER v. CINEMARK USA was a 1999-2000 Kentucky federal court case which involved a Jehovah's Witness Teenager and his JW Father. Groessler was employed at Cinemark's Louisville, Kentucky Tinseltown USA movie theaters for only nine weeks from November 1998 to January 1999. Groessler alleged that during the nine weeks that on a daily basis three assistant managers directed a pattern or series of ethnic and religious slurs, taunts, and, on one occasion, physical assault, against Groessler based upon his national origin (Germany) and his Watchtower religion. Groessler further alleged that his complaints, and the complaints and threats of litigation from his father, to both the location manager and the regional manager went unheeded. Groessler was fired, and thereafter filed a federal lawsuit alleging employment discrimination, a hostile work environment and retaliatory discharge. Cinemark's motion for summary dismissal was rejected by the USDC, but this case was eventually settled in Groessler's favor.
One extremely interesting incident occurred in this case, which is similar to the SECRET TAPE RECORDING incident in the PEDROZA v. CINTAS CORP case above. On January 30, 1999, Groessler met with Cinemark's Region Leader while he was in Louisville on a routine inspection. While waiting in an empty conference room for the Region Leader to arrive, Groessler called his father on his cellphone. Groessler's father told Groessler to leave the cellphone on during the meeting, so that he could secretly eavesdrop on the meeting. When the Region Leader unexpectedly entered the room, Groessler dropped the phone into his lap, where it was out of the Region Leader's view. During the meeting, the Region Leader noted that Groessler kept speaking downward into his lap, and thus suspected that Groessler was talking into a cellphone. The Region Leader asked Groessler if he had a cellphone, and Groessler admitted such, and stated that the cellphone was on and that his father was listening on the other end. The Region Leader grabbed the cellphone and exited the room. Shortly thereafter, he returned and fired Groessler. When the illegal eavesdropping issue came up during the subsequent litigation, Groessler's father claimed that the cellphone cut off when it hit Groessler's lap, and that he had not hear any part of the meeting.
Employers should be aware that there are a number of anecdotal stories posted on the internet which contain allegations of Jehovah's Witness "Elders" secretly carrying tape recorders and cellphones on their person and in their briefcases into the homes of Jehovah's Witness members who the Elders were investigating for violating Watchtower rules. In fact, one group of JW Elders were even caught by the police and prosecuted for videotaping activity at one member's home from a van parked across the street from such. See WATCHTOWER SPIES & SECRET AGENTS page linked from our frontpage.
MACIEJ GROCHOWSKI v. VIRGIN ACTIVE HEALTH & RACQUETS CLUB was a 2012-14 British employment discrimination case. A male Jehovah's Witness named Maciej Grochowski (sounds like a Polish immigrant) was hired as a fitness coach (personal trainer) at one of Virgin Active's gym locations in England -- presumably in early 2011. Grochowski quickly began to annoy co-workers, supervisors, and even gym members by repeatedly mentioning his WatchTower Cult religious beliefs while performing his job.
EEOC v. CORPORATE EXPRESS CALLCENTER was a 2002 Maryland federal court case filed on behalf of a Jehovah's Witness named Geoffrey K. Gard. Geoffrey Gard worked as a call center agent for a contract company which provided telephone order taking services for Playboy and other similar companies. Gard was terminated after he refused to even participate in employer training specific to the Playboy account due to his religious beliefs. Gard filed a complaint with EEOC, who inturn filed this federal lawsuit for the employer's failure to accommodate Gard's religious beliefs. Employer chose to settle the lawsuit, with Gard receiving $10,000.00.
JOHN C. NEAGLEY v. TOLEDO METROPARK DISTRICT was a 1997-98 Ohio employment discrimination court case filed by a Jehovah's Witness named John Neagley, then age 48, of Grand Rapids, Ohio. Reportedly, Neagley was fired from his position as Coordinator of the historic Isaac Ludwig Mill in Providence Metropark due to insubordination, falsification of records, and other unspecified work performance issues alleged by his supervisors. Outcome unknown.
MORALES v. PNC BANK is an ongoing 2009-11 Pennsylvania federal court case. Denyse H. Morales is a 45 year-old Jehovah's Witness female from Trinidad. Her race is Hispanic-African. Denyse Morales started working as a financial products salesperson at PNC's Rydal, Pennsylvania branch in July 2006. Morales was terminated in April 2008, allegedly for repeatedly failing to meet her production goals. Soon thereafter, Morales filed charges of race/national origin discrimination and retaliation with E.E.O.C. and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. The EEOC eventually issued a Right To Sue letter.
Morales filed her own federal lawsuit in March 2010. However, in addition to race/national origin discrimination and retaliation, Morales federal lawsuit also included significant allegations of religious discrimination and resulting retaliation. Morales claimed that she was retaliated against because she refused to work on weekday evenings when she had meetings at her Kingdom Hall. Morales also alleged retaliation because she refused to attend a company Halloween party due to her WatchTower beliefs.
In August 2011, the USDC ruled on PNC's motion for summary dismissal. The USDC dismissed Morales religious discrimination and retaliation claims due to the fact that Morales had not alleged such to EEOC. The USDC did allow her case to go forward on the race/national origin discrimination and retaliation claims. Outcome pending.
MICHELLE E. TACKETT v. UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE is an ongoing 2009-11 USPS employee EEOC decision which involves a Jehovah's Witness named Michelle E. Tackett, who works at the Joplin, Missouri Post Office. Michelle Tackett filed a formal EEO complaint alleging religious discrimination, sex discrimination, disability discrimination (hearing impaired), and reprisal for prior protected EEO activity when: (1.) On October 11, 2008, USPS changed Tackett's work hours; and (2.) On November 13, 2008, Tackett was denied an interpreter for a training session on November 13, 2008. USPS has twice ruled against Tackett in whole or in part, and twice on appeal, EEOC has remanded for further proceedings. Outcome unknown.
LUCINA DEL TORO v. VISIT FLORIDA was a 2008-10 Florida court case. In 2008, a Hispanic female Jehovah's Witness named Lucina Del Toro was fired from her job as an Information Specialist with the state of Florida's tourism agency. In 2009, Lucina Del Toro filed this lawsuit accusing the agency of both racial and religious discrimination. The State agency chose to "settle" this lawsuit in 2010. Although few details are known, media reports stated that Del Toro's lawsuit alleged that her supervisor had "denigrated" Del Toro's WatchTower religion, and that the supervisor had instructed co-workers to "ignore" Del Toro. Del Toro further alleged that complaints to the agency's Human Resources Department went unheeded. Personally, I'm curious how Del Toro's supervisor and co-workers even knew that she was a JW, and exactly what actions by Del Toro were her co-workers instructed to ignore. Additionally, why are there not additional details via the state or federal agency handling the EEO claim? Something smells fishy -- including possibly a settlement paid only because such could be done with state tax dollars.
FAVORS v. ALABAMA POWER CO was a 2008-10 Alabama federal court case which involved a female Jehovah's Witness named Dione A. Favors. Dione Favors worked as a full-time CSR at a local business office from November 2007 until her termination in May 2008. Favors thereafter filed a religious discrimination and retaliation claim with the EEOC, and this lawsuit resulted. In 2010, the USDC summarily dismissed all of Favors' claims.
In early February 2008, Favors' supervisor confronted Favors about Favors' distributing WATCHTOWER literature and pamphlets to Alabama Power Company's customers in the company parking lot during work hours.
In Favors' own words, when asked whether she was distributing religious pamphlets to customers, "I told her I was. I didn't act as if I didn't do it. I told her what I was doing." ... Favors seeks to justify her conduct by stating that, as a Jehovah's Witness, she feels an "obligation ... to preach and/or teach persons who welcome our positive message of hope and peace" and that she "use[s] any opportunity that presents itself to do so."
Favors alleged, but her supervisor denied, that during this same conversation that the supervisor also told Favors to refrain from reading religious literature while sitting in her car during her lunch hour. Although there were no further solicitations by Favors, the USDC states: "Favors chafed at the restriction against engaging in her religious ministry during work hours. She requested a part-time schedule in March 2008 so that she could have more time to devote to religious ministry matters."
Favors repeatedly called in sick the first week of April, and various responses by Favors' supervisor and co-workers caused Favors to file an internal complaint with APC. In early April 2008, Favors' request to switch to part-time employement was denied. Favors continued to communicate with the internal investigator about her original complaint, plus made additional complaints alleging religious discrimination and harrassment.
A couple weeks later, Favors' supervisor selected Favors to attend a company leadership conference because Favors' supervisor believed Favors was "the strongest leadership candidate in their office, and because Favors had expressed specific interest in moving into a management position." However, Favors refused to attend the conference. Upper management then became involved, and overreacted to Favors' not attending the conference by formally disciplining Favors with a one day suspension for "insubordination". Favors was told to have a plan to improve her work performance when she returned to work, but Favors refused to acknowledge that she had been insubordinate at the followup meeting. Favors was suspended again. At a subsequent followup, Favors continued to refuse to acknowledge that she had been insubordinate, and she was terminated.
The USDC opinion noted, in part:
Favors admits that none of her managers, supervisors or co-workers ever made negative or insulting comments to her about her religious beliefs. Nonetheless, she attempts to construct a religious harassment claim from offhand references by [Supervisor] and others to her religion from time to time. Viewing the summary judgment record in the light most favorable to Favors, the sum total of religious harassment to which she was subjected consisted of the following: (a) Martin (original interviewer) made an isolated inquiry after she had been offered the job as to her religion, but she never worked with Martin or discussed religion with him again; (b) [Supervisor] told Favors on one occasion not to distribute Jehovah's Witness literature on company property or during working hours, and not to read her Bible on her lunch hour; (c) one evening, [Supervisor] rescheduled a team meeting for 5:40 p.m., which interfered with Favors' evening ministry; (d) after a day off, Favors was asked by [Supervisor] whether she had spent her day engaging in her religious ministry; and (e) on another occasion, [Supervisor] indicated to Favors that she knew Favors was looking forward to having more time to pursue her religious ministry.
Such incidents, viewed cumulatively and under the totality of the circumstances, are far too innocuous and benign to satisfy the "severe or pervasive" prerequisite for a hostile work environment claim. ...
KOEHLER v. JKLM Inc is an ongoing 2010 Illinois federal civil court case. A female Jehovah's Witness, named Janissa Koehler, was employed at an East Moline, Illinois McDonalds restaurant from July 2008 until she resigned in March 2009. Janissa Koehler accuses the McDonald's franchisee of religious discrimination and sexual harassment. Koehler alleges that her supervisors criticized and made fun of her WatchTower religion. Koehler also alleges that fellow employees said Koehler was lesbian and made comments that were sexual in nature about other women in her presence. Koehler claims other employees, including women and men, made inappropriate physical contact with her, and that when she complained to management she was told to "turn the other cheek" and ignore her co-workers. Koehler alleges that when she continued to complain that she was eventually "written up" for her complaining. The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
WILLIAM MANNING v. UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE was a 2002 USPS employee EEOC decision which involved a Jehovah's Witness named William Manning. Apparently, this was not Mannings first EEO complaint. In a complaint dated March 15, 2002, Bill Manning alleged that he was subjected to religious discrimination in reprisal for prior EEO activity when on March 25, 2002, a co-worker stepped in the doorway and her arm touched him. Manning also claimed that he was subjected to harassment when his co-worker instructed him to go to break while customers were waiting for service, and then advised Manning that he needed to wait until the relief clerk returned. USPS dismissed Manning's complaint for failure
to state a claim. EEOC affirmed.
WILLIAM MANNING v. UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE was a 2003-5 USPS employee EEOC decision which involved a Jehovah's Witness named William Manning. Apparently, this was not Mannings first EEO complaint. Manning, who is a Window Clerk at the agency's Carmel Post Office facility, filed a formal EEO complaint in December 2003 alleging religious discrimination and reprisal for his prior EEO activity, when he was required to provide medical documentation to support his request for sick leave on a day on which two other employees had already been denied leave. USPS dismissed Manning's complaint, and on appeal, EEOC affirmed.
WILLIAM MANNING v. UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE was a 2004-5 USPS employee EEOC decision which involved a Jehovah's Witness named William Manning. Apparently, this was not Mannings first EEO complaint. In this complaint, Bill Manning alleged that he was subjected to religious discrimination, disability discrimination, and reprisal for prior EEO activity, when he was denied leave related to his Type I diabetes medical condition. USPS dismissed Manning's complaint for failure to state a claim. EEOC remanded for further consideration. Outcome unknown.
CYNTHIA CALLAN v. BLUEGREEN CORPORATION was a 2008-9 South Carolina "religious discrimination" federal court case. A female Jehovah's Witness, named Cynthia Callan, was employed by Bluegreen Corp in 2006, allegedly over the protests of a male supervisor who evidently knew Callan. Callan alleged that this same supervisor thereafter made her worklife miserable, and engaged other employees in such. Callan alleged one specific incident where that supervisor did: "Running across the parking lot, one time to break up a conversation I was ingaged [sic] in, with another employee, telling him “she is crazy,” told him that I was one of Jehovahs Witnesses, as though it was a disease." The USDC summarily dismissed Callan's pro se lawsuit because she had signed an arbitration agreement which would address such allegations at the time of employment.
WILLIE McNEAL III v. UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE was a 1996-8 USPS employee EEOC decision which involved an African-American Jehovah's Witness named Willie McNeal III, who had been employed by USPS for approximately 30 years. Around October 1996, a co-worker told McNeal that his Supervisor had stated that McNeal was "very, very slow", plus had made a derogatory reference to McNeal's race by stating, "You know how slow they are." The co-worker also accused the Supervisor of making a negative reference to McNeal's WatchTower religion, by stating, "I think they like to feel that way." McNeal contacted a USPS EEO Counselor and alleged religious discrimination, racial discrimination, and sex discrimination, and thereafter filed a formal EEO complaint. USPS ruled that the Supervisor's remarks did not cause a direct deprivation of any employment benefit, and dismissed McNeal's case. On appeal, EEOC remanded for consideration whether McNeal had established a case of discriminatory harassment. Outcome unknown.
WILLIE McNEAL III v. UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE was a 1997-9 USPS employee EEOC decision which involved an African-American Jehovah's Witness named Willie McNeal III, who had been employed by USPS for approximately 30 years. In this case, McNeal alleged religious discrimination, racial discrimination, and sex discrimination relating to an August 1997 incident when McNeal's Supervisor allegedly assaulted McNeal with a barrage of harassing and intimidating threats, loud talk, insulting and denigratory remarks and insinuations while McNeal tried to verify his stamp requisition. When McNeal asked to speak to a shop steward to complain, the Supervisor told him he was writing McNeal up for poor performance, and told McNeal that "he was a real case". USPS again ruled that the Supervisor's remarks did not cause a direct deprivation of any employment benefit, and dismissed McNeal's case. On appeal, EEOC again remanded for consideration whether McNeal had established a case of discriminatory harassment. Outcome unknown.
PALOMARES v. PIZZA BOBS is an ongoing 2008 Hawaii court case. In March 2008, a Jehovah's Witness, named Carolyn Palomares, filed a triple-discrimination complaint of religious, sex, and age discrimination against her former employer, Pizza Bob's in Haleiwa. Carolyn Palomares worked as a food server, and alleges she was discriminated against for being a Jehovah's Witness. Palomares alleges that she was forced to work odd shifts, or left to wait on a high volume of customers with no help from her colleagues. Such may have been as a result of the restaurant's efforts to "accommodate" Palomares' religious meetings at her local Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. Carolyn Palomares also alleges that she experienced unwelcome sexual comments by other employees and a manager, and nothing was done to protect her when she complained about such to management. Palomares also alleges that she was passed over for a manager promotion, and that the promotion was given to a younger, less-experienced male employee.
ALMER HOUSTON v. UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE was a 2006 USPS employee EEOC decision which involved a Jehovah's Witness named Almer Houston, who was a 57 year-old male African-American Jehovah's Witness when he was hired as a Rural Mail Carrier at the Pearland, Texas postal facility. Houston was fired for poor performance, mis-delivered mail, and missing eight calls to report to work during his probationary period, in July 2004. Almer Houston thereafter filed an EEO complaint alleging religious discrimination, age discrimination, racial discrimination, and sex discrimination. USPS ruled that there had been no discrimination, and on appeal, EEOC affirmed.
IN RE KEVIN J. LIENHART was a 2003-4 Michigan Civil Service Commission proceeding which involved a Jehovah's Witness Elder and former "WatchTower Bethelite", who had been employed in a low level position at the Michigan Department of Treasury for the short period of only 9 months. Apparently having been hired around March 2003, Kevin Lienhart attempted to have his job eligibility improved in December 2003. Lienhart's request was denied due to his limited prior work history corresponding to the state government positions for which he was seeking eligibility. Lienhart challenged the denial by highlighting his ongoing work experience as an Elder at the Eaton Rapids Congregation of Jehovah's Witness, his past work experience at the WatchTower Society world headquarters, and his past history working part-time in construction for himself and who were probably other Jehovah's Witness Contractors. Even the Review officer labeled Lienhart's claims as "unrealistic". For those readers who fully understand and comprehend WATCHTOWER WORLD, such that they are aware that qualifying to be a JW Elder or a WatchTower Bethelite is based not on "minimum" education and intelligence qualifications, but rather "maximums", they will find this case highly amusing.
MARCELINO ARJONA v. UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE was a 2002-05 USPS employee EEOC decision which involved a male Fillipino Jehovah's Witness named Marcelino Arjona, who worked at the Sellers Processing and Distribution Center. In 2002, after being notified that he was being transferred to another unit, Arjona filed a formal EEO complaint alleging religious discrimination, racial discrimination, sex discrimination, national origin discrimination, physical disability discrimination, age discrimination, and reprisal for prior EEO activity. The EEOC Administrative Judge granted summary judgment against Arjona after he found that the transfer was simply due to workload needs, plus Arjona's Bilateral Trapezius Strain and Lower Motor Neuron Syndrome of Left Extremity disability was better accommodated by the new job. On appeal, affirmed by EEOC.
EARSCELLE C. WILKERSON v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT was a 2003-06 federal employee EEOC decision. Earscelle Wilkerson was a 63 year-old male African-American Jehovah's Witness when he was hired as a Equal Opportunity Specialist at HUD. Wilkerson was fired for poor performance during his probationary period, in October 2003. Wilkerson thereafter filed an EEO complaint alleging religious discrimination, age discrimination, racial discrimination, and sex discrimination. HUD ruled that there had been no discrimination, and on appeal, EEOC affirmed.
IRONS v. NATIONSBANK was a 1997 California court case. Limited details. In 1997, a Jehovah's Witness, named Lila Irons, filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against her former Sacramento employer, NationsBank Mortgage Corporation. Lila Irons alleged that she was fired soon after disclosing that she was a Jehovah's Witness. Outcome unknown.
WILMA LYNN BURRAGE-GRAHAM v. UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE was a 2001-4 USPS employee EEOC decision which involved a Jehovah's Witness named Wilma L. Burrage-Graham, who worked at the Wilmington,
Delaware processing facility. Wilma Lynn Graham filed an EEO complaint alleging religious discrimination and a hostile work environment created by actions of co-workers. The EEOC Administrative Judge investigated and ruled that Graham did have some personal issues with co-workers -- i.e. a verbal exchange with a co-worker; having material pulled out of her hands; and being called a “hypocrite” -- but such were not motivated by prejudice against her WatchTower religion. The EEOC Administrative Judge also found that the isolated incidents between Graham and co-workers did not amount to creating a hostile work environment. Affirmed by EEOC. Reconsideration denied.
WILMA LYNN BURRAGE-GRAHAM v. UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE was a 2003-6 USPS employee EEOC decision which involved a Jehovah's Witness named Wilma L. Burrage-Graham, who worked at the Wilmington,
Delaware processing facility. Wilma Burrage sought EEO counseling on May 15, 2003 concerning alleged religious discrimination, harassment, and retaliation for her prior EEO activity. Thereafter, Burrage filed a formal EEO complaint, but allegedly failed to receive a copy of the Report of Investigation. The subsequent adverse ruling was vacated in 2006, and remanded to give Burrage an opportunity to request a hearing. Outcome unknown.
TEXAS v. TRUJILLO was a 1997 Texas murder court decision. In March 1997, a Mexican National Jehovah's Witness Employee, named Benjamin Trinidad Trujillo, 35, of Conroe, Texas, shot and killed his long-time Employer, 50 year-old Joseph Sanchez. Trujillo shot Sanchez once in the head with a 9 mm pistol, which apparently was kept in the business for security purposes, shortly after Sanchez opened his St. Chez Shoe Repair shop on March 5. Trujillo claimed that Sanchez had "harassed him" for three weeks prior to the incident, and that he intended only to scare Sanchez with the pistol when it accidentally fired. Trujillo was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Although Benjamin Trujillo had worked for Sanchez for several years, the pair evidently had a history of arguments and problems. Sanchez was a Pentecostal, and the pair reportedly had argued about "religion" on occasion, as well as Trujillo's job performance. Interestingly, Sanchez had even once fired Trujillo sometime around 1994/5, but had hired him back (discrimination complaint/lawsuit???).
After the "accidental" shooting, Trujillo had the presence of mind to wipe the pistol clean of fingerprints before he fled the shop. When initially questioned by police, Trujillo claimed that he had not yet arrived for work when the shooting occurred. When that lie fell apart, Trujillo then claimed that Sanchez had accidentally shot himself. When that lie fell apart, Trujillo then claimed that the pistol accidentally fired while he was attempting to scare Sanchez.
CALIFORNIA v. JASON GLENN HALVERSON was a 2002 California appellate court case which affirmed the 2001 conviction of Jason Glen Halverson on the charges of "sexual battery" and "assault with the intent to commit rape" for which Jason G. Halverson was sentenced to two years in prison. This conviction related to 26 year-old Jason Halverson's April 2000 sexual assault on an 18 year-old LOWES co-worker at her apartment during her lunch break. Halverson apparently followed his co-worker home and made up an excuse to enter her apartment. There, Halverson repeatedly fondled her, and forced her to fondle him. The non-JW female reported the sexual assault to LOWES management as soon as she returned to work, and thereafter to local police.
PETER A. NEDD v. HOME DEPOT was a 1995-8 New York federal civil court case, which involved an African-American Jehovah's Witness named Peter Nedd. In 1998, in New York, a Jehovah's Witness named Peter A. Nedd sued his employer Home Depot in federal district court alleging employment discrimination. Although Nedd had only worked as a hourly sales clerk at a Home Depot store, he chose to represent himself as his own attorney against Home Depot. After two days of trial, and two days of deliberations, the jury decided in Nedd's favor, and awarded him $210,000.00 in compensatory damages and $1,000,000.00 in punitive damages. Not bad for a first time trial lawyer. However, because of the statutory damages cap, the judge had to reduce Nedd's total award to $300,000.00.
All the specifics presented during the trial are not known, but Nedd, who was a large black man, made several allegations of discrimination. There was an unclear incident when Nedd was injured on the job, and he claimed there was several hours delay in getting him medical assistance. There was also an vague allegation that Nedd had been "detained" after his shift had ended, supposedly two or more times. Nedd also alleged that racist cartoons were placed in his locker. Nedd also alleged that his supervisor had called him a "nigger" the day he was fired. Nedd generally alleged that he was treated differently than white employees and that his termination was due to race.
Nedd's supervisor did take the witness stand and swore that he had never ever called Nedd the N-word. Home Depot stated that Nedd was fired because "he posed a threat" to the other Home Depot employees. Unfortunately, this post-trial order does not provide the "specifics" provided by Home Dept's defense team, if any. Even the USDC Judge rushed to Peter Nedd's defense in response to Home Depot's assertions that Nedd had posed a threat to co-workers. The USDC federal Judge stated:
"While Nedd is, indeed, a physically large individual, no evidence was adduced to suggest that he has ever assaulted, threatened, or in any way imperiled anyone. On the contrary, the evidence suggests that Nedd, a Jehovah's Witness minister, has devoted his adult life to activities designed to foster peace in the community."
Peter Nedd's case against Home Depot was finalized in mid 1998, and he probably received his $300,000.00 check in the summer of 1998.
UNITED STATES v. PETER A. NEDD was a 1999-2000 Massachusetts federal criminal court case, which also involved Peter Nedd. These two federal civil and criminal cases which should be studied over and over before any employer decides that it is wise to allow his own case with a Jehovah's Witness Employee to go before a judge or jury. In December 1999, "Brother Nedd" was arrested by the FBI on multiple charges of interstate threats and stalking. Nedd had been threatening to rape and murder three members of a Jehovah's Witness family that lived in Massachusetts. Need, 38, had become obsessed with and started stalking a young teenage JW around the same time he was fired from Home Depot (1995). After years of calls and letters from Nedd, the JW parents obtained a restraining order against him. However, Nedd repeatedly violated that order in 1999 by telephoning them, threatening them, and appearing at their residence in an attempt to visit the now young woman. Approximately 80 harassing telephone calls were recorded. In 2000, Nedd was tried, convicted, and sentenced to 33 months of incarceration. During this trial, the federal prosecutor presented evidence that Nedd had been diagnosed with a mentally illness as far back as 1989, but that Nedd had not continued to get psychiatric care or take his medication. Maybe the judge and jury from NEDD v. HOME DEPOT, in partnership with Home Depot's legal defense team, should be forced to reimburse Home Depot.
CROWN v. BALLARD was a 2007-8 Canadian criminal court case which involved a 49 year-old Jehovah's Witness named Ronald Ballard. Ron Ballard was employed as an Electrician at the Prince George Airport in British Columbia. Ballard was arrested in May 2007 after female co-workers noticed and reported a peephole cut into the ceiling of a women's restroom used by female airport employees. Further investigation revealed a video camera above the ceiling that was videotaping through the peephole. Ballard eventually admitted that it was he who had installed the camera and who had been videotaping for a period of four to six months his female co-workers who used that restroom. Ronald Ballard pleaded "guilty" to the crime, but in November 2008, Ballard was unbelievably sentenced to only "probation" -- for 30 months. Ballard was ordered by the hanging-judge to write a letter of apology to his former co-workers (he had been fired), plus the judge ordered Ballard not to use a camera nor enter a women's restroom during the 30 month probation period.
EUGENIA D. BOZE v. UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE was a 2006-09 USPS employee EEOC decision which involved a female Jehovah's Witness named Eugenia D. Boze, who worked at the Salem, Missouri post office. On June 21, 2006, Boze received a Letter of Warning for failure to meet attendance requirements. On August 14, 2006, Boze received a Seven-Day Suspension for being Absent Without Leave. On September 26, 2006, Boze was notified that she would be "removed" or being AWOL from August 6, 2006, and continuing. Boze filed an EEO complaint on September 18, 2006, alleging religious discrimination, disability discrimination (anxiety disorder, pelvic pain syndrome, ankle pain, and foot pain), and in reprisal for prior EEO activities. Boze also alleged that she was being harassed for making a sexual harassment complaint on March 23, 2006.
With regard to the alleged sexual harassment, a male co-worker had stated to both Boze and another female employee that, "I've been in both your drawers." Boze told the male co-worker not to make such comments, and he agreed to refrain from doing so by shaking hands with her. Postmaster stated that when Boze told him about the incident, he immediately investigated it. The male coworker told Postmaster that he made the statement because he was looking for a lost ledger book, and did not mean anything sexual by the comment. The second female employee concurred with him that she did not understand his comment to be one with sexual connotations. Postmaster nevertheless conducted a job discussion with the male coworker to make certain he was aware of the agency's anti-sexual harassment policy. The male coworker made no more comments similar to the one at issue thereafter, and there was no evidence of harassment toward Boze from other employees.
With regard to Boze's attendance, she only worked 350 hours during 2005, as she was absent for more than 8 months, and in 2006, she only worked approximately 280 hours. Boze was absent from work continuously after June 9, 2006. Boae's supervisor stated that Boze had failed to provide sufficient medical documentation to support so many alleged medical absences.
Accordingly, USPS ruled no discrimination in the firing of Eugenia Boze, and on Boze's appeal, EEOC affirmed.
NAWROT v. CPC INTERNATIONAL D/B/A BESTWAY FOODS illustrates why Co-workers of Jehovah's Witness Employees should never allow the Jehovah's Witness Employee to discuss the WatchTower religion with them, plus a Co-worker should never ever make any comment about a Jehovah's Witness Employee's WatchTower religion.
Ralph Nawrot was a warehouse supervisor who sued his employer for allegedly wrongfully terminating him due to the effects that his diabetic condition had on his job performance. Bestway's defense was a series of alleged inappropriate actions committed by Nawrot over a period of several years. Those "inappropriate actions" included three interactions with a Jehovah's Witness co-worker named Bertha Dandridge. Bertha Dandridge reported such to Nawrot's supervisor, who documented such in Nawrot's employee file.
In one instance, when Dandridge refused to assist a delivery driver with his packages, Nawrot had muttered to the delivery driver: "And she's supposed to be a Jehovah's Witness!!!" Evidently, Dandridge heard and reported Nawrot's remark. On another occasion, Bertha Dandridge was upset at work, and Nawrot had told her, "... calm down, you're a Witness, you know. Don't start yelling and screaming." On a third occasion, when Dandridge refused to make coffee for Nawrot but did so for another colleague, Nawrot commented, "I thought you told me Jehovah's Witnesses don't make coffee."
Dandridge complained about the three incidents to Nawrot's supervisor, who met with Nawrot to discuss Dandridge's complaints. Nawrot explained to Thompson that he had been interested in learning about Dandridge's religion and had conversed with her about theology on numerous occasions. Nawrot then relayed to Thompson the context in which his comments were made. In the first instance, he said, he had tried to relieve the tension between the driver and Dandridge. The second comment was intended to pacify Dandridge by reminding her of her faith. The last remark was made in jest in reference to Dandridge's prior statement to Nawrot that Jehovah's Witnesses did not make coffee. Nawrot thought that the matter had been resolved as a misunderstanding.
LEE MEDEARIS v. UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE was a 2000-04 USPS employee EEOC decision which involved a Jehovah's Witness named Lee Medearis, who was a mail carrier in the Houston, Texas area. In early 2000, Medearis was issued two Letters of Warning for attendance and performance issues, and placed on Emergency Suspension. In July 2000, Medearis filed a formal EEO complaint alleging religious discrimination, sex discrimination, and age discrimination. Medearis further claimed that he had had his work hours changed in reprisal for his EEO activity. The EEOC Administrative Judge ruled that Lee Medearis had not been the subject of any discrimination with regard to his attendance and performance warnings, nor his suspension, but that his work hours had been changed in retaliation for his EEO claim. Medearis was awarded $500.00 for such. On Medearis's appeal, the EEOC affirmed.
FEATHERSTONE v. UNITED PARCEL SERVICE was a 1993-5 Maryland federal USDC court case which involved an African-American Jehovah's Witness named Lurenda Featherstone (now a famous musician). Featherstone sued UPS in a Title VII action alleging racial discrimination, religious discrimination, and retaliation. The lawsuit was summarily dismissed by the USDC. The dismissal was affirmed by the USCA.
Featherstone started working as a part-time package handler for UPS in 1978. In 1987, Featherstone was promoted to a full-time delivery driver. Featherstone was terminated in 1993 after a long history of fully documented problems at UPS. Featherstone reportedly made repeated allegations to customers, the Union, and UPS, that his supervisors did not like African-Americans or Jehovah's Witnesses. However, at trial, Featherstone's chief evidence that he was harassed based upon his race or religion was a supervisor's statement that 'it's not right for Jehovah's Witnesses to be knocking on peoples door.'"
UPS denied discriminating against Featherstone and outlined numerous instances, over several years, of Featherstone's inefficiency and failure to follow company policies, which led to multiple disciplinary actions and Featherstone's eventual termination. The USDC found that Featherstone failed to "articulate specific evidence to support his allegation[s]" and instead relied upon "his own assertions" and "conclusory allegations" which were inadequate to create a genuine issue of fact. UPS was able to document that their actions toward Featherstone were directly related to Featherstone's unacceptable job performance. The appellate court agreed.
CARMEN M. REAGAN v. UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE was a 1997-2001 USPS employee EEOC decision which involved a female Hispanic Jehovah's Witness named Carmen M. Reagan, who worked at USPS's Processing Center in Tampa, Florida. In latter 1997, Reagan filed an EEO complaint alleging racial discrimination, sex discrimination, and Puerto Rican "national origin" discrimination, after a series of events which started with her allegedly being screamed at by her Supervisor in August 1997. Afterwards, in September 1997, Reagan was given two "investigative interviews", after which Reagan allegedly became sick. All this resulted in Reagan receiving a Letter of Warning. Reagan further alleged that these incidents were part of a continuous pattern of harassment against her. After a full investigation, USPS either dismissed or ruled against all claims of discrimination. On appeal, EEOC affirmed.
CARMEN M. REAGAN v. UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE was a 1998-9 USPS employee EEOC decision which involved a female Hispanic Jehovah's Witness named Carmen M. Reagan, who worked at USPS's Processing Center in Tampa, Florida. Carmen Reagan filed an EEO complaint alleging religious discrimination, racial discrimination, and sex discrimination, and retaliation for previous EEO activity, when in March 1998, Reagan's Supervisor stated that he was going to send her a “Where are you?” letter. USPS ruled that Reagan had suffered no harm, and EEOC affirmed on appeal.
CARMEN M. REAGAN v. UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE was a 1998-2001 USPS employee EEOC decision which involved a female Hispanic Jehovah's Witness named Carmen M. Reagan, who worked at USPS's Processing Center in Tampa, Florida. Reagan filed an EEO complaint alleging that she had been retaliated against for prior EEO activity, when in January 1998, she was required to provide additional medical documentation to a USPS nurse. USPS ruled that no discrimination had occurred, and on appeal, EEOC affirmed.
CARMEN M. REAGAN v. UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE was a 1998-2001 USPS employee EEOC decision which involved a female Hispanic Jehovah's Witness named Carmen M. Reagan, who worked at USPS's Processing Center in Tampa, Florida. Reagan filed an EEO complaint alleging that she was discriminated against based on her female sex, and in reprisal for prior EEO activity, when from March 28, 1998, through June 19, 1998, her request for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) were denied. Reagan also alleged that the handling of her leave requests was motivated by her alleged refusal to engage in a personal relationship with a Supervisor. After a full investigation, USPS ruled that no discrimination had occurred, and on appeal, EEOC affirmed.
CARMEN M. REAGAN v. UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE was a 1999-2000 USPS employee EEOC decision which involved a female Hispanic Jehovah's Witness named Carmen M. Reagan, who worked at USPS's Processing Center in Tampa, Florida. Reagan filed an EEO complaint alleging religious discrimination, racial discrimination, sex discrimination, mental disability discrimination, and retaliation for previous EEO activity, when she was subjected to sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. Reagan somehow learned that a sexually inappropriate remark regarding her was written on the wall in the men's restroom. In addition to the remarks on the bathroom wall, Reagan claimed that she had been threatened with bodily harm, verbally insulted, and given sermons about her personal life. This complaint was dismissed by USPS, but remanded by EEOC on appeal. Outcome unknown.
CARMEN M. REAGAN v. UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE was a 1999-2001 USPS employee EEOC decision which involved a female Hispanic Jehovah's Witness named Carmen M. Reagan, who worked at USPS's Processing Center in Tampa, Florida. Reagan filed an EEO complaint alleging religious discrimination, racial discrimination, sex discrimination, disability discrimination, and retaliation for previous EEO activity, when in December 1998, her Supervisor visited the Office of Workers Compensation (OWCP) in an effort to have her Worker's Compensation claim overturned. USPS ruled failure to state a claim given that this was the Supervisor's legal responsibility. On appeal, affirmed by EEOC.
CARMEN M. REAGAN v. UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE (x 2) was a 2001-2003 USPS employee EEOC decision which involved a female Hispanic Jehovah's Witness named Carmen M. Reagan, who worked at USPS's Processing Center in Tampa, Florida. Reagan filed an EEO complaint alleging age discrimination, racial discrimination, sex discrimination, disability discrimination, and retaliation for previous EEO activity, when on October 16, 2001, she was issued a Removal Letter which allegedly contained false and misleading statements. Reagan also filed a second complaint alleging that on October 16, 2001, she was issued a Notice of Removal allegedly as a result of personnel's failure to process her disability retirement paperwork in a timely manner. Both claims were dismissed, and on appeal, affirmed by EEOC.
EEOC v. ARIZONA PAPER BOX CO. was a 2004 federal lawsuit filed on behalf of Gerardo Amaya, Jose Covarrubias, and several other unnamed Jehovah's Witnesses, who were "recent immigrants" to Arizona, who could not speak English. The three "recent immigrants" claimed "religious discrimination", alleging that their supervisor circulated offensive cartoons depicting Jehovah's Witnesses having sex with a goat, and preaching while drunk, and made jokes and derogatory comments about the Jehovah's Witness religion. After they threatened to file a company complaint, they were laid off and/or fired.
The USDC decision granted $48,000.00 in back pay and penalties, an injunction against future religious discrimination and retaliation, and Arizona Paper Box was forced to revise their anti-discrimination policies and post such in English and Mexican. This is an extremely informative case for employers as it demonstrates well how Jehovah's Witnesses are educated about their civil rights before they are even taught to speak English.
NATI TSAI v. UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE was a 1998-2000 USPS employee EEOC decision which involved a female Asian Jehovah's Witness named Nati Tsai , who worked part-time at a post office in Santa Ana, California. Tsai filed an EEO complaint alleging religious discrimination, and retaliation for previous EEO activity. Outcome unknown.
NATI TSAI v. UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE was a 2000-2002 USPS employee EEOC decision which involved a female Asian Jehovah's Witness named Nati Tsai , who worked part-time at a post office in Santa Ana, California. Tsai filed an EEO complaint alleging religious discrimination, age discrimination, and disability discrimination, when on December 22, 2000, she was placed in a non-pay status, and instructed to leave work until further notice, and denied upward mobility and training as a Window Clerk. Outcome unknown.
TORRES v. CITY OF PORTLAND was a 2007 Oregon Public Employment Relations Board Arbitration which involved a Jehovah's Witness named Jan Lazarcik, who was a co-worker of Gilbert Torres. Gilbert Torres and Jan Lazarcik were both employed by the City of Portland, and both worked at the Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant. Torres had been employed by the City of Portland since 1991. The record does not indicate how long Lazarcik had been employed, but the record does refer to Lazarcik as being as "immigrant" who spoke with "a noticeable accent". Jan Lazarcik is a devout Jehovah's Witness, who had attempted to recruit Torres on previous occasions. Torres had rejected Lazarcik's attempts to recruit him into the WatchTower religion.
"... Torres did not bring marijuana into his workplace (I specifically find that the workplace is where one works; there was no showing that “work” occurred in the parking lot), nor is there any credible evidence that he was ever impaired at work, missed work due to drug use, or sold drugs to co-workers."... Torres committed no crime on City property. Oregon takes a very lenient approach to marijuana possession and, under Oregon law, possessing 3.7 grams of marijuana is a violation, not a crime, akin to littering, jaywalking, or exceeding the posted speed limit, and the maximum sanction is simply a fine. Again, this is also not a case of an employee taking drugs into the plant, using drugs at work, or selling drugs to co-workers. There was no evidence to contradict the Grievant’s testimony that the marijuana in is car was a mere oversight.While there is no question in my mind that Mr. Torres should be reminded through the use of progressive discipline not to leave dope in his car, I also believe that the majority of arbitrators would not uphold more than a one day suspension as a penalty. While many arbitrators would impose no penalty, I am not among them. A one day suspension is appropriate.
"There is no question that Mr. Torres deserves to be disciplined for his conduct in stating to a co-worker that he 'f***ed three Jehovah’s Witnesses who came to my door.' However, the City mischaracterizes this conduct as religious discrimination and harassment. Despite Mr. Lazarcik’s status as a Jehovah’s Witness, Mr. Torres’ statement was not an act of religious discrimination or religious harassment. In fact, the statement was not religious at all; it was simply an angry reaction to Mr. Lazarcik’s inquires regarding Mr. Torres’ recent arrest. Mr. Torres did not display hostility toward Mr. Lazarcik because of his religion; rather, he was hostile towards Mr. Lazarcik because of what he regarded as a smarmy attempt to bait him; the religious taunt was simply the vehicle he used to lash out at Mr. Lazarcik."The record is clear that it was not Mr. Torres who initiated the conversation that led to his termination. Mr. Torres and Mr. Lazarcik were not friends, despite Mr. Lazarcik’s efforts to proselytize Mr. Torres, and I can think of no other reason for Mr. Lazarcik to initiate the conversation other than to bait or taunt Mr. Torres.In its brief the City argues that:'Grievant mocked the accent of Jan Lazarcik during the hearing further confirming the appropriateness of discharge. Jan Lazarcik is an immigrant to the United States with a noticeable accent and strong religious beliefs. Grievant mocked the accent of Jan Lazarcik during the hearing in the course of his testimony. The grievant seemed to be trying to convey how annoying it was to be asked about what happened as a way to excuse his discriminatory outburst. Even during his own arbitration the grievant appears to have little or no awareness that he has done more than commit a technical violation, and he is clearly not a candidate for reinstatement.'"I disagree. Witnessing Mr. Torres testifying at the hearing I saw an individual who was trying to accurately describe what had occurred and explain his actions. I find it more-likely-than-not that Mr. Lazarcik was trying to be annoying. As Mr. Meyer testified:'MEYER: So, when I was out in the smoking area I said why don’t you just leave Gil alone, he doesn’t need anybody kicking him when he’s down so to speak, I don’t know if that’s verbatim and I just told him to leave the guy alone, he’s already been through enough and let him go do his job. I felt that he was, that him and Jan were both kind of, they were needling him. And they’re not the best of friends so, why would you be so concerned with what this guy’s problems or his well-being is if really it’s just phony and fake and you just want to get under his skin. So, I asked Mike, just leave the guy alone, several times, a couple of times. And you know, I don’t know whether he did or not, but that’s how I deemed it to be, it was kind of futile actually.'"When interviewed for the investigation Mr. Lazarcik stated:'And I didn’t want to ask him in front of other people because it is embarrassing… what he wanted to say because there were a number of rumors going around, what really happened so he could just tell me this happened instead of having some… so I can have some knowledge.'"Clearly Mr. Lazarcik knew that he was asking an 'embarrassing' question of Mr. Torres, 'so I can have some knowledge.' Others concluded that Mr. Lazarcik’s motives were anything but benign, as stated by Mr. Davis; Mr. Lazarcik was simply trying to 'poke at the injured dog with a pointy stick.'"As a general rule, where an employee is the victim of a provocation which will foreseeably provoke an ordinarily reasonable person into a heat of rage and aggression, the conduct of that employee may be excused (as opposed to justified) either partially, so as to mitigate against the full degree of penalty, or completely, so as to mitigate against any penalty whatsoever."Further, for Mr. Torres’ conduct to constitute 'harassment' his conduct must be both objectively and subjectively offensive, conduct that a reasonable person would find hostile or abusive, and one that the victim in fact did perceive to be so."One could argue that a reasonable person in Mr. Lazarcik’s position would have expected Mr. Torres’ lashing out, as this was exactly the sort of reaction he was trying to elicit. ..."In any event, the fact remains that Mr. Torres made the inappropriate statement and that he clearly should be disciplined for it. ..."What is more problematic is that Mr. Torres repeated his comment to co-workers later on that same day. The City argues that Mr. Torres 'broke the camel’s back' by repeating his insult to other co-workers and that any excuses or mitigating arguments about a 'one time event' or 'immediate regret' went out the window at this point. I agree; if repeating of the statement to others was motivated by nothing more that a desire to show his friends that he had told Mr. Lazarcik off and if a substantial period of time had elapsed after the initial comment. If Mr. Torres had made further comments regarding Jehovah’s Wittiness’s at this juncture, I would sustain a far more severe penalty. However, it appears that all Mr. Torres did was simply tell his co-workers of his prior statement. At this time Mr. Torres made no further pejorative remarks about Jehovah’s Witness’s in general, or Mr. Lazarcik in particular. Is this second statement worthy of discipline? In review of all BNA publications and published awards on-line I can not find a comparable case. Further, the parties in their lengthy, exhaustive, and well written briefs were unable to provide me with any authority."I specifically find that Mr. Torres should not be disciplined for repeating the statement that he 'f***ed three Jehovah’s Witnesses who came to my door.' The statement itself may be completely innocuous depending on its context. If Mr. Torres was trying to communicate 'wow, I can’t believe that I just said that I f***ed three Jehovah’s Witnesses who came to my door to Mr. Lazarcik, I’m so embarrassed,' his speech would be acceptable. If however, Mr. Torres was trying to communicate 'wow, I sure showed Mr. Lazarcik; I just said that I f***ed three Jehovah’s Witnesses who came to my door,' the speech would be worthy of discipline. What was the context of the statement in the Lead Office and how much time had elapsed after the initial comment? I’m not really sure."Mr. Torres indicated in his testimony that he was simply letting people know what he had stated so that they didn’t hear it from others. Mr. Taylor testified that he thought it was an attempt at humor. However, almost all of the testimony surrounding the statements in the Lead Office were simply unclear as to context. Further, the comment in the Lead Office may have occurred less than a minute after the initial comment while Mr. Torres was still up-set by Mr. Lazarcik’s questioning; again, the facts are simply unclear. While there is evidence that Mr. Torres’ repeating of the statement was maliciously motivated, the evidence does not rise to the level of a preponderance."In the instant case, the City has chosen to terminate Mr. Torres for his conduct. ... ..."Torres did not initiate the altercation with Mr. Lazarcik and there were no physical threats. Given the isolated nature of the outburst, and the provocation, I find that a five day suspension would be the most severe penalty that a majority of arbitrators would uphold; even if they allowed the city a great degree of deference in selecting the punishment."... While just cause existed for discipline, the City has not met its burden of proof as to discharge, and the discipline is reduced to a six day suspension. ... ."
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