Given the WatchTower Society's supposed "neutral position" in all things "worldly", and given the info discussed below, we found it particularly interesting that in July 1969 that both the Associated Press and UPI reported that at the request of Cesar Chavez, director of the United Farm Workers of America, the WatchTower Society had agreed to join in the then ongoing nationwide UFWA GRAPE BOYCOTT, and that it was canceling all orders of California-grown grapes to be supplied to its concessions at its remaining summer Conventions scattered across the United States.
Epifanio Camacho, a self-described major player in the formation of the United Farm Workers of America, in his autobiography, THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A COMMUNIST: COMMUNISTS ARE MADE NOT BORN, related that his wife was a Jehovah's Witness who supported him in his efforts, and that he himself was "a sympathizer with the Jehovah's Witnesses", who had not become an "official member" only because of his goals and work in the UFWA.
Born in 1904, Ted F. Silvey was reared by a converted Jehovah's Witness Mother, and sometime during the 1920s, volunteered as a BETHELITE at WatchTower World HQ, in Brooklyn, New York, where he learned to be a printer. Silvey returned to Ohio in the early 1930s, and found a job as a printer in Columbus, Ohio, where Silvey started engaging in union activities. Ted Silvey became "Editor" of the LABOR TRIBUNE in 1935, "Director" of central Ohio's Non-Partisan League in 1936, and an officer in Ohio's CIO in 1937, which meant that Silvey was immersed in not only local union activities and internal union politics, but also national union activities related to the formation of the AFL and CIO, as well as local, state, and national governmental politics.
VINCENT MIRANDA CEPEDA v. UNION TRABAJADORES INDUSTRIA ELECTRICA Y RIEGO is an ongoing 2015-17 Puerto Rico federal employment discrimination lawsuit involving a Jehovah's Witness Minister named Vincent Miranda Cepeda, of Cataņo, Puerto Rico. Vincent Miranda began working at Puerto Rico Electric and Power Authority in 1986. As a condition of his employment, Vincent M. Cepeda had to become a member of the Union. On multiple occasions, Cepeda informed various Union officials that due to his WatchTower religious beliefs that he would be unable to participate in any strikes, picketing, work stoppages, work slowdowns, or employee protests.
In February 2012, a Union official filed an internal grievance in response to Cepeda's failure to appear at an assembly called by Union and Cepeda's decision to remain working at his post during that time. In April 2012, Union labeled Cepeda a "strike buster" for working during the February 2012 union assembly. Union issued Cepeda a written admonishment for his failure to participate in the work stoppage and attend the assembly. Union also fined Cepeda $140.00 for his failure to attend the February 2012 union assembly. The monetary fine was levied in violation of Cepeda's contractual agreement with Union which guaranteed notice and a hearing in such circumstances.
In October 2012, a second Union official filed a second grievance against Cepeda for Cepeda's failure to participate in a 12-hour work stoppage and for Cepeda's failure to attend an assembly at Roberto Clemente Coliseum. Again, Cepeda was not given proper notice of the hearing and was fined $50.00. When the hearing was held. Cepeda alleges that he was under "partial hospitalization" due to emotional distress resulting from Union's actions. In January 2013, Vincent Cepeda filed a complaint against Union with EEOC. In February 2013, Cepeda notified Union that he opposed the fines because he believed they were levied against him without consideration of his religious reasons for not participating in the work stoppages. In June 2013, Union sent a collection letter to Cepeda requesting payment of the two fines. In July 2013, Cepeda reiterated the religious reasons for his abstention from the work stoppages.
UNION TRABAJADORES INDUSTRIA ELECTRICA Y RIEGO v. VINCENT MIRANDA CEPEDA. In July 2014, Union filed a lawsuit to collect the two fines amounting to $190.00.
In February 2015, Vincent Miranda Cepeda filed this MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR lawsuit alleging religious discrimination, retaliation, failure to accommodate, and violation of his civil rights under the Puerto Rico constitution. INTERESTINGLY, under Puerto Rica law, Cepeda's Jehovah's Witness Wife, Doris A. Gordian-Reyes, also filed a claim for damages for HER emotional distress.
BETTY FOX v. YATES SERVICES LLC was a 2014-17 Tennessee federal employment discrimination lawsuit. YATES is a provider of contract employees to NISSAN's Smyrna, Tennessee manufacturing plant. Betty Fox is an African-American Jehovah's Witness who was hired by YATES in December 2011, and began working at NISSAN in January 2012. Betty Fox apparently identified herself as one of Jehovah's Witnesses during her first week at NISSAN. At some point thereafter, Betty Fox's co-workers also were given the impression that Betty Fox was "anti-union". Soon after employment, Betty Fox began to file with NISSAN'S HR Department complaints of harassment by co-workers relating to her WatchTower religion, as well as complaints of sexual harassment by one particular co-worker. HR investigations failed to corroborate Fox's claims, and Betty Fox was warned her that her continued complaints were disruptive and could result in discipline.
On May 15, 2012, Betty Fox received a verbal warning for comments that could have been "reasonably understood as a threat, which grew out of an incident in which it was reported that Betty Fox made a threat that she was going to shoot [alleged sexual harasser] with a gun". The accused sexual harasser was given a "Written Reminder" on the same day "for disrupting the workforce as a result of his interactions with Fox".
On August 6-7, 2012, NISSAN managers pulled each employee in Betty Fox's workgroup off the line and reminded them individually of NISSAN'S code of conduct and harassment policies, talked to the employees about these policies, and informed them that harassment was a serious offense and would not be tolerated.
On October 1, Betty Fox was given a "Written Reminder" for approaching her alleged sexual harasser in an inappropriate and confrontational manner that stated that her actions were "unacceptable and counter-productive to the successful operation of this company" and that it was the company's responsibility to provide a "work environment free of harassment or intimidation of any kind." Betty Fox also was warned that if she did not "correct the problem", or if she continued to display this type of behavior in the future, "further corrective action may be taken, up to and including termination." The next morning Betty Fox came into work very upset, and she spoke to a supervisor about incidents such as "people staring at her", "people not leaving her alone", "that the work group did not like her", that one co-worker had tried to push her, and that another co-worker had tried to break her arm.
HR investigated Fox's complaints, but was unable to find any evidence at all to support her claims. Ultimately, HR found that Fox's repeated complaints were causing disruption in the workgroup, because everyone tried to avoid her and each time they did an investigation, Fox's co-workers instead complained about her. Betty Fox continued to file additional complaints, so on October 3, 2012, Betty Fox was suspended without pay. On October 19, YATES fired Betty Fox for disruptive behavior per published employment guidelines. This federal lawsuit alleging a hostile work environment and retaliation was filed in November 2014. In February 2017, the Tennessee USDC summarily dismissed the entire lawsuit.
JASON LLOYD SMALL v. CITY OF MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE is an ongoing 2014-17 Tennessee federal employment discrimination lawsuit. Incomplete, limited details available. Jason L. Small, age 41, of Memphis, Tennessee, is a Jehovah's Witness Employee who has been employed as a "bargaining unit"employee with the City of Memphis's Memphis Light, Gas, and Water Division (MLGW) since around 1996. Around 2010, Jason Small, whom had worked as an Electrician since initial employment, suffered an unknown "wrist injury" (carpal tunnel???) which led to four surgeries over the following four years. Around 2013, Jason Small's doctor placed Small on permanent work restrictions which prevented Jason Small from performing duties as an Electrician. Jason Small apparently received disability leave and benefits.
Per MLGW employment policies, Jason Small had one year to apply for and be hired to another job at MLGW for which he was qualified. Apparently, Jason Small was eventually hired for such a position, but Small now complains that the scheduling for this unidentified position impedes Small's ability to regularly attend the midweek evening meeting and the Sunday meeting at his local Memphis Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. Jason Small further complains that he has been disciplined for missing work and clocking in late because of attending Kingdom Hall meetings.
At some point, Jason Small filed a complaint with the EEOC which alleged employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. After its own thorough investigation, in 2016, EEOC apparently declined to pursue Small's claims, but instead issued to Small a Right-To-Sue Letter. In January 2017, Jason Small hired his own attorney and filed this federal lawsuit. In addition to the above allegations and claims, Jason Small claims that due to the large size of his employer that MLGW is legally obligated to place him in an employment position which fully accomodates his religious meeting schedule at his local Kingdom Hall even if such requires MLGW to violate its "collective bargaining agreement". Outcome pending.
JASON LLOYD SMALL v. MARCIA LARUBA SMALL (Divorce with children: 2003)
JASON L. SMALL v. MLGW (Workers Compensation: 2004)
JASON L. SMALL v. MLGW (Workers Compensation: 2011)
JIMMIE KNIGHT v. CITY OF BENTON HARBOR, MICHIGAN, ET AL is an ongoing 2014-16 employment discrimination federal lawsuit filed by one of Benton Harbor, Michigan's most prominent Jehovah's Witness Elders, and involves an African-American Supervisor Defendant who was reared as a Jehovah's Witness, but is now a Christian Minister. A 2014 state incorporation filing for the Benton Harbor Michigan Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses lists "Jimmie Knight" as the principle "Agent". An old 1968 incorporation filing for the Benton Harbor Michigan Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses lists "Jimmie Knight Jr." as its principle "Agent". Thus, the "Jimmie Knight" who is the plaintiff in this lawsuit appears to be the son of Benton Harbor's previous most prominent JW Elder.
According to an article published in October 2015, which is partially based on city records it obtained via a FOIA request, THE HEARLD-PALLADIUM, alleges that Jimmie Knight, age 37, was fired from his position as a FIREFIGHTER for "removing" city property and "lying" to Public Safety Director Dan McGinnis, who acknowledges being reared as one of Jehovah's Witnesses. According to city records, when Public Safety Director Dan McGinnis sought to review files belonging to the City's former Firefighters' Union, which had been decertified in 2013, McGinnis discovered that the files were missing from the Watch office. McGinnis then reviewed surveillance footage which showed Jimmie Knight filling two garbage bags with files from the filing cabinet of the former union, removing them from the building, and then putting them in his own automobile. When McGinnis asked Knight to return the files, Knight allegedly only returned one bag. McGinnis retrieved the second bag out of Knight's locked trunk while Knight was on a fire call. The City report states that the files contained personnel information from current and past employees, along with old Union info.
Jimmie Knight's lawsuit denies many of the claims in the aforementioned City reports, and alleges that he was wrongfully fired in November 2014 in retaliation for raising concerns about fire safety policy and training. Knight filed a complaint about training and equipment deficiencies with the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration on 11-14-14, was suspended a few hours later, and was terminated on 11-18-14. Knight's lawsuit seeks that Knight, who had been employed as a city firefighter since May 2005, be reinstated with the Fire Department and that he be awarded back pay and damages. Outcome pending.
Jimmie Knight reportedly also filed a complaint with the EEOC in 2014 which alleged religious discrimination. The EEOC decided in July 2015 not to pursue Knight's claims and issued Knight a Right-To-Sue Letter.
ADAM HABARTA v. TORONTO ONTARIO SCHOOL BOARD was a 2015-16 Canadian employment discrimination arbitration case. Adam Habarta, of Toronto, Canada, is a Jehovah's Witness Minister who has been employed as a janitor at the Danforth Collegiate Institute since 1994. During Habarta's entire 22 year employment period, Adam Habarta has worked only four of the five shifts per week which his "union" job normally requires to constitute a "fulltime" position consisting of 8 hours per day, five days per week. For 20 years, the Toronto School Board permitted Habarta to take off every single "Thursday" in order to "accommodate" Habarta's religious "need" to attend religious services on Thursday evenings at the Birkdale Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. For twenty years, this religious "accommodation" has required Danforth's shift supervisor to "cover" for Habarta every Thursday. In January 2015, Adam Habarta's "seniority" made him eligible for the shift supervisor position at Danforth, and he so applied. Due to the fact that Habarta was applying for the very supervisory position which had been forced to "cover" for Habarta's absence every Thursday for the past 20+ years, the school board gave that position to a janitor with lesser seniority on the grounds of "undue hardship".
In December 2016, an Arbitrator named Christopher J. Albertyn ruled that the school board had violated the Ontario Human Rights Code, as well as thecollective bargaining agreement, in that the school board had failed to continue to "accommodate" the religious needs of Adam Habarta. The school board was ordered to promote Adam Habarta to either the shift supervisor position at Danforth, or an equivalent position, while continuing to "accommodate" Adam Habarta's religious need to skip work every Thursday. The school board was also ordered to pay Adam Habarta his "lost earnings" dating back to February 2015, plus an additional $1000.00 in "damages". The Arbitrator further ruled that it was up to the school board and the union to figure out how best to "cover" Adam Habarta's absence as the shift supervisor every Thursday. No good deed goes unpunished.
GREGORY S. BURGE ET AL v. INLAND STEEL COMPANY was a 1981-83 Indiana lawsuit filed by a prominent northwest Indiana Jehovah's Witness Presiding Overseer and WatchTower Regional Building Committee Spokesperson, who along with 70 other brickmason Union members who became totally or partially separated from employment were seeking Trade Readjustment Allowance benefits under the Federal Trade Act of 1974. Initially denied by the Review Board of the Indiana Employment Security Division, they won eligibility for benefits in the Indiana Court of Appeals.
CASTILLO v. ANTON CARATAN is a 1982 California Agricultural Labor Relations Board Decision/Order which is lengthy and more complex than is necessary to sort through for the purposes of inclusion here. For our purposes, we can take a look at two key figures in this case -- Jesus and Eloida Hernandez - a Jehovah's Witness husband and wife.
Non-JWs should understand that during the various unionization efforts which occurred in the United States in the early to mid 1900s, the Watch Tower Society always publicly declared themselves "neutral" regarding such, just like they supposedly are "neutral" in politics and all other societal controversies. Many a Midwest Jehovah's Witness autoworker sweated over whether they would or would not join the UAW, would or would not pay union dues, would or would not walk a picket line, etc. Essentially, Jehovah's Witnesses were permitted to exercise their consciences as to whether they would or would not join a union, but they could do nothing more to support the union than pay dues. If a strike occurred, JWs could not walk picket, but could "sweep the floor of the union hall, while the other members were out picketing". However, the National Labor Relations Act, Section 19, provides: "An employee who is a member of and adheres to established and traditional tenets or teachings of a bona fide religion, body, or sect which has historically held conscientious objections to joining or financially supporting labor organizations shall not be required to join or financially support any labor organization as a condition of employment; except that such employee may be required in a contract .... in lieu of periodic dues and initiation fees, to pay sums equal to such dues and initiation fees to a non-religious, non-labor organization charitable fund ... ." Thus, rather than joining a Union and paying union dues, many Jehovah's Witnesses over the years have elected what is known as "the charity option".
Then, we run across Jesus and Eloida Hernandez, who are members of a certain group of people who have been heavily targeted for recruitment by the Watch Tower Society. Jesus and Eloida Hernandez were Jehovah's Witnesses. That was a fact, since this judge ruled that the conduct for which Jesus Hernandez was fired was disrupting work activities by preaching Watchtower doctrines to his fellow farmworkers farm while they were trying to work. This judge also ruled that this JW Employee's testimony was so "unreliable", that Hernandez's allegations of "unfair labor practices" against this employer were dismissed. According to this JW Employee's own testimony against this employer, the JW Employee told his employer that he was a UFW supporter who had been fired from a previous position for testifying against the previous employer for alleged "unfair labor practices". Either Hernandez was lying under oath in order to establish untrue allegations against this employer, or he was telling the truth, which means this Jehovah's Witness was involved in the migrant farmworker's movement of that era.
Given the Watch Tower Society's passion for tapping this new source of recruits, and the fact that the language and cultural barrier would keep derivations in doctrine from being discovered by the main body of American JWs, there may have been something very interesting going on in the southwest JW community in the 1960-80s. This certainly would not have been the first time the Watch Tower Society turned its' head to certain activities conducted by this group of recruits.
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD v. WORLD CARPETS OF NEW YORK, INC (1968) and NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD v. WORLD CARPETS OF NEW YORK, INC (1972) were two New York state federal appellate USCA decisions which related to the "running battle" between the JEHOVAH'S WITNESS OWNED World Carpets of New York, Inc. and the Allied Trades Union, during the 1960s-1970s, when A.T.U. was attempting to "unionize" the New York warehouse of World Carpets, Inc.
World Carpets, Inc., of Dalton, Georgia, was a forerunner of the now publicly traded Mohawk Industries, Inc., currently the second largest floor covering company in the world. World Carpets, Inc. was founded in 1954 by a Jehovah's Witness couple named Shaheen Azeez Shaheen (Palestinian immigrant) and Piera Barbaglia Shaheen. Thereafter, their sons, John A. Shaheen (Financial Patron of WatchTower Bethelite Natheer Salih - 2009, 2010, 2011) and David M. Shaheen, helped grow World Carpets into the 12th largest floor covering company in the world at the time that it was merged into the publicly traded Mohawk Industries, Inc. in 1998.
Here are a few interesting excerpts from the two USCA opinions. Readers with further interest should google and read the entire opinions:
Respondent distributes carpets manufactured in Dalton, Georgia, by its affiliate, World Carpets, Inc. One Shaheen owns a controlling interest in and is president of both companies as well as of distributors in other parts of the country. Charles [P.] Alvin was manager of respondent's warehouse at Garden City. ... When Alvin brought up his lack of authority and consequent need to talk to his principals in Georgia, Fecter responded "When you do talk to your officials in Dalton, Georgia, let them know that we are threatening you with pulling out the men."
Alvin immediately called the head office in Georgia but found that Talley was in Los Angeles. Located there, Talley told Alvin not to sign anything and to endeavor to get a little time to enable them to make a report to the president and to think things over. After being put on the phone with Barresi, Talley again requested Alvin to try to get more time, said there was nothing he could do until he talked to the president, and promised to call back. Feeling uncomfortable under Barresi's pressure, Alvin went out of his office and called Talley again. Talley said "that he cannot give me a decision and try to ask for more time so we can submit a report to the parent organization in Dalton, Georgia, as he knew that Shaheen did not want a union in the warehouse." On his return to the conference room, apparently believing that any further requests for time would be fruitless, Alvin told Barresi "that he had just spoken to Talley, and Talley had told him that the office in Georgia had said that the Company did not recognize any union, to let them strike."
The Union carried out its threat almost immediately. Three employees left their work and began picketing. A fourth, the only one who had not signed a card, stayed on the job when Alvin told him he was not required to leave. The fifth, who was not at work on May 2, observed the picket line on his way to work the next morning and started picketing. Alvin admitted seeing the four pickets. On May 5, the Union filed a charge of violation of § 8(a)(5). Sometime during the next two weeks Talley told Alvin that among the reasons Shaheen didn't want a union in New York was his fear that this would spread to other warehouses.
... ... ... ...
The other remark of Pollack's on which the majority relied was that he "had heard that [President] Shaheen had said he would close the warehouse down and ship directly from Georgia or open a new warehouse up in Jersey before he would let the Union in."
Readers interested in the "Jehovah's Witnesses" angle of World Carpets, Inc. may wish to take a look at a 1970-71 Texas federal court case, WORLD CARPETS, INC. v. DICK LITTRELL'S NEW WORLD CARPETS ET AL, which was a trademark infringement lawsuit that suspiciously looks as if the multiple defendants may have been fellow Jehovah's Witnesses of the Shaheen family.
Also, see PATRICIA FOLINO ET AL v. WORLD CARPETS INC, which was a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by former female employees.
IN RE DANIEL LEE HAMON (1980), AFL-CIO v. GREEN COUNTY CASTING CORPORATION (1980-82), and DANIEL LEE HAMON, RICKY JAKE HAMON, ET AL v. GREEN COUNTY CASTING CORPORATION (1981-87) are related 1980-87 Workers Compensation, NLRB, and Oklahoma state court cases filed by a Jehovah's Witness Minister named Daniel Hamon, then age 32, of Muskogee, Oklahoma, his cousin, Ricky Hamon, and six other co-workers, against their employer, Green County Casting Corp. Ricky J. Hamon was "Chief Steward" of the local Union, and had been involved in 500 previous grievances filed against GREEN.
The employees' union contract with GREEN expired October 31, 1979, and a strike commenced immediately thereafter. Daniel Hamon and Ricky Hamon each served as "Picket Captains" during the strike. A settlement was reached in January 1980, and all workers were recalled except for Daniel L. Hamon, Ricky J. Hamon, and the other defendants due to the fact that AFTER the strike had commenced they had filed Workers Compensation claims against GREEN.
Daniel Hamon's Workers Compensation claim was filed on November 12, 1979, in which Dan Hamon alleged that he had suffered a back injury on October 31, 1979. Daniel Hamon chose his own treating physician, who later provided testimony that Hamon had suffered a 20% PERMANENT PARTIAL DISABILITY. The examining doctor for the State Insurance Fund testified that Dan Hamon had not suffered any "permanent disability" whatsoever, and that as of his examination in January 1980, he had found no temporary physical impairment whatsoever, nor had he found any evidence of any prior medical treatment for such. Despite such testimony, in March 1980, the Oklahoma WC Board granted Daniel Lee Hamon 8% PERMANENT PARTIAL DISABILITY.
Despite winning reinstatement, back wages, interest, etc. before the NLRB, the defendants then proceeded to sue GREEN in Oklahoma state court for additional damages allegedly caused by "retaliatory discharge". Outcome unknown, but indications are that the Defendants also won that court case.
APONTE v. BUONO and HERBERT APONTE v. MARY ANN BUONO, President Local 426 International School Transportation Workers Union were both a New York state court case (2010?), and now also a 2011-12 federal court case. Herbert Aponte, a male Jehovah's Witness living in Bronx, New York, was employed for eleven years as a NYC school bus driver under a collective bargaining agreement between the "Union" and Aponte's Brooklyn employer, Precious Services and Management Corporation. In May 2010, a parent reported to the New York City Department of Education, Office of Pupil Transportation, that Aponte had left a student at home unattended instead of at an alternative pre-arranged location. OPT investigated the complaint and held a disciplinary hearing on May 27, 2010. Buono attended the meeting with Aponte. After the hearing, OPT suspended Aponte's Certificate of Approval as a New York City school bus driver for 270 days because of the incident. Aponte appealed this decision, and a disciplinary appeal conference was held before the NYCDOE Office of Appeals and Review on August 18, 2010. Buono again attended the conference with Aponte. Aponte's 270-day suspension was changed to a permanent revocation of his bus driver certification.
Thereafter, Aponte filed a state court civil action which was eventually dismissed because Aponte failed to appear. In March 2011, this federal lawsuit was filed in which Aponte alleged that Buono breached the Union's duty of fair representation when she failed to adequately represent Aponte at the aforementioned disciplinary proceedings. Aponte's complaint also suggested that Buono and the Union did not adequately represent Aponte's interests because the Union is overwhelmingly Catholic and Aponte is a Jehovah's Witness. The final paragraph of Aponte's complaint suggested that he has been subjected to a "hostile environment" at work because he is a Jehovah's Witness and "everyone else is Catholic." Aponte claimed that he was ostracized and harassed at work on a daily basis because of his religious beliefs, and that no one would associate with him.
In December 2011, the USDC dismissed Aponte's claims against Mary Ann Buono. The USDC did allow Aponte 30 days to filed an amended complaint against NYCDOE alleging a violation of his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights. Outcome unknown.
MONTEIRO v. TOWN OF MIDDLETOWN, AFSCME, ET AL was a 2005-2012 Rhode Island state court case. In June 2005, Frank A. Monteiro, who had worked for seven years as a maintenance technician and a carpenter for the Middletown Public School System, was fired after an argument with his supervisors. Shortly thereafter, Frank Monteiro filed a complaint with the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights, alleging that during his seven year tenure with the Town that he had suffered racial discrimination (African-American) and religious discrimination (practicing Jehovah's Witness) at the hands of municipal and union officials. He also alleged that he was discharged in retaliation for making complaints.
In May 2006, an arbitrator upheld the termination. The RI Superior Court confirmed the arbitration in November 2006. In October 2008, the Superior Court granted the Town's motion for summary judgment on the discrimination claims. Thereafter, Monteiro pursued the Union and individual union officials on discrimination and representation claims. The Superior Court dismissed the discrimination claims in July 2011, but allowed the representation claim to be litigated. The 54 year-old Jehovah's Witness Minister died in October 2012.
RHODE ISLAND v. MONTEIRO. A charge of domestic assault can be in January 2000.
CARMEN APORTELA v. SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION is a series of Texas federal court cases which involve a 10+ years long running battle between a female Hispanic Jehovah's Witness named Carmen Aportela and her employer, the Social Security Administration. Carmen Aportela started working at the SSA in 1989 in an unidentifed capacity. In 1995, Aportela was promoted to the position of "claims representative", and problems apparently started immediately after Aportela started working that position. Between 1996 and 2003, Carmen Aportela filed 7 formal complaints with the EEOC complaining of "discrimination" based on her Jehovah's Witnesses religion; her Hispanic race; her Mexican? national origin; her female sex; and her physical disabilities, including fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety and stress, migraines, memory loss, and lupus. Aportela also filed two or more worker's compensation claims (1996, 1998, ?). In May 1998, Aportela was even terminated, but was re-instated in January 1999 after SSA agreed to settle that case.
While the [EEOC Administrative Judge] found that complainant belonged to statutorily protected classes, she did not find any basis for imputing liability to the agency because the complained of conduct or practice did not occur, or if it did, it was not objectively offensive, was not corroborated by other evidence, was contradicted by other evidence, or complainant's accounting of the events was not borne out by the evidence, and was not credible.
During the year 2000, the Florida news media repeatedly reported on the saga of a Jehovah's Witness Firefighter, named Barac Wimberly, who was eventually fired from the Pinellas Park Fire Department due to alleged poor job performance. Wimberly filed a religious discrimination claim with EEOC prior to his dismissal, but I don't know whether such was ever followed by a lawsuit in either state or federal court after Wimberly's termination. The charges and counter-charges are numerous, so I would recommend reading all the linked newspaper articles.
Some of the Department's allegations included: In 1999, Wimberly received a written reprimand for sleeping through a fire alarm, because Wimberly was wearing earplugs to drown out fellow firefighters' snoring. Soon after, he was reprimanded in writing and suspended for half of a 24-hour shift for leaving medical waste, such as needles and bandages, a blood pressure cuff, and other equipment, in someone's home after a medical call. Not long after, he slept through another alarm. Fire officials gave him a three-day suspension without pay that Wimberly appealed and had two days' pay restored. There are many more negatives in the linked newspaper articles.
Wimberly's charges of religious discrimination included: (1.) Co-workers often asked why Wimberly didn't celebrate holidays, such as Christmas. One acting supervisor allegedly asked Wimberly why he accepted a Christmas bonus if he didn't celebrate the holiday. (2.) Co-workers had joked about Jehovah's Witnesses knocking on doors -- calling them Saturday morning streetwalkers. (3.)After arguing with one firefighter/paramedic about his religion, the man asked Wimberly why Jehovah's Witnesses were coming to his door. He also told Wimberly that he disagreed with Jehovah's Witness' interpretation of the Bible. Shortly after, that co-worker allegedly began filing complaints against him that could not be substantiated. (4.) When Wimberly refused to take the Union Oath, as written, he was accused of elevating myself above everyone else, and attempting to get the oath changed. (5.) He declined to help decorate the fire truck during the winter holidays because of his religious beliefs. An acting supervisor "accused me of using my religion to get out of job duties. He told me to leave my religion at home." (6.) "I was written up for not being a team player, in part because I did not participate in the holiday activities. (7.) Wimberly concluded, "I believe if I were not a Jehovah's Witness, I would not be subjected to derogatory comments about my religion. I also believe that I am being harassed and subjected to disciplinary action because of my religious beliefs."
In response to Wimberly's charges against the Department, the Fire Chief pointed out that the Department currently already had two Jehovah's Witnesses employed, and both of those JWs held supervisory positions. In fact, the Chief pointed out that at the time that Wimberly was hired, Wimberly was the #1 applicant. All indicators had pointed to Wimberly being a rising star in the Department. However, the exact opposite occurred.
Even Wimberly acknowledged that his problems began soon after he was hired. Wimberly claimed that he was pressured into joining the Union, but Wimberly refused to join the Union because union activities would mean he would have to give up other "off-duty pursuits" -- i.e., door-to-door JW recruiting, etc. Thus, right off the bat, Wimberly fowled up the Department's 100%union participation, which made Wimberly an unpopular character.
After alleged repeated harassment and ridicule, Wimberly decided to join the Union in hopes that that would end his problems. Instead, joining the Union exacerbated Wimberly's problems. Why? Because Wimberely refused to take the Union Oath as it was written because of his WatchTower beliefs. Wimberly refused to swear his "allegiance" to the Union.
So, Wimberly asked for and received permission to swear to an "altered version" of the Union's Oath. That simply Po'ed Wimberly's co-workers that much more, and they essentially had had all of the new recruit that they wanted. The following two years appeared to evidence that fact.
NLRB v. HOOD FURNITURE MFG CO was a 1991 Mississippi federal appellate court decision which involved the attempted unionization of a furniture manufacturer. The only portion of the case that involved a Jehovah's Witness Employee issue was the "election". The vote count was 104 "for" Union representation and 103 "against" Union representation.
In its attempt to contest that election, the Employer presented an affidavit from one of its' African-American employees which stated that the employee did not participate in the "election" because of the tenets of the Jehovah's Witnesses, but that if he would have been allowed to vote, then he would have voted "against" Union representation, which would have changed the outcome of the election. The Employer argued that the affidavit should be counted as a "vote" after the fact. The USCA responded:
"The Company complains that to ignore Marshall's desire not to be represented by the Union solely because his religious convictions prevented him from voting contradicts Board policy. This court views it as contrary to Board policy to count as valid the 'vote' of one who comes forward after the results of an election are known, claiming that he would have voted for the losing party and that his vote should now be counted in the official tally, especially where one vote would change the outcome of the election. The Board found no basis in this case for deviating from its established voting practices, and we believe its decision not to count Marshall's affirmation as a valid vote was reasonable."
SEIU v. WILSON was a 1985-7 State of Washington case in which a Jehovah's Witness, named William H. Wilson, won his hearing before the Public Employment Relations Commission. Wilson was employed as a school bus driver by the Bainbridge
Island School District, which had a collective bargaining agreement with Service Employees International Union, Local 123.
Wilson did not join the union as required by the collective bargaining agreement. In December 1985, he appeared before the executive board of the union where he asserted his right on non-association. Wilson based this assertion on his membership in the Jehovah's Witness faith. The executive board denied his right on non-association and required that he join the union. He refused to do so, and the union filed this petition.
Prior to working for the Bainbridge Island School District, Wilson was an employee of the state of Washington and was employed at Fircrest School in Seattle. He asserted a right of non-association while he was employed at Fircrest, and was not required to join the union there. The PERC held:
2.Based upon sincerely held, bona fide religious beliefs, William H. Wilson is entitled to exercise a right of non-association and to make alternative payments to charity under RCW 41.56.122.
3.The Children's Hospital, Seattle, Washington, is an appropriate non-religious charity to receive alternative payments under RCW 41.56.122.
TREVOR WILLIAM EMILE REES v. CANADIAN UNION OF POSTAL WORKERS was a 2009 case in which a Jehovah's Witness employee of the Canada Post Corporation was terminated in July 2009 after CPC learned that Trevor Rees had attended a WatchTower Convention while he was off on medical leave. CPC took the position that Rees's attendance at the convention was an abuse of his sick leave and a misrepresentation of his ability to perform his duties on his originally scheduled shift. Rees was battling both CPC over his termination, and the CUPW for having failed to properly file his termination grievance within the time limits set out in the collective agreement. Outcome unknown.
GLEN EBERLE v. UNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA ET AL was a 2005 British Columbia Labour Relations Board case. The BCLRB ruled against Eberle's request to be exempted from membership in the United Steelworkers of America, and that he be permitted to donate the equivalent of union dues to the WatchTower Society of Canada, stating:
It is the applicant's personal religious convictions which are under scrutiny, not the tenets of his/her religion. The test is subjective. The objection to trade union membership must be founded on deeply held, personal religious convictions and not on social, political, ethical, moral, or philosophical grounds.
The applicant's objection must be to trade unions generally, and not to a particular union or to a particular action or policy of a union. The applicant's convictions must be irreconcilable with membership in any and all trade unions. Eberle has not established that his religious convictions are irreconcilable with membership in any and all trade unions. He has been a dues paying member since 1979. I appreciate that he did not know about the ability to apply for an exemption. However, this does not detract from the fact that he was able to reconcile his religious beliefs with his membership in the Union for over 25 years.
I also appreciate that he would prefer to have his dues money donated to the Worldwide Bible Education Work done by Jehovah's Witness. However, this does not establish that he has an irreconcilable conflict with being a member of a union. The application is dismissed as Eberle has not established that his religious convictions are irreconcilable with membership in any and all trade unions.
JENNIFER LOHMEYER v. COMMUNICATIONS, ENERGY, AND PAPERWORKERS UNION OF CANADA ET AL was a 2003-05 Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board case. When a Jehovah's Witness named Jennifer Lohmeyer was employed by the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority, she refused to join the Union claiming that the membership application contained a "pledge of allegiance" to the Union, which violated her WatchTower beliefs. When the Union eventually decided to waive her signature on that application, Lohmeyer then objected to the paying of union dues because the Union used a minuscule portion of those dues as a $1000.00 total annual donation to a political party. Lohmeyer wanted to donate the equivalent of her union dues to the WatchTower Society of Canada. However, the Union refused to exempt Lohmeyer from payment of dues to the Union. The SLRB ruled that Lohmeyer could not object to paying union dues merely because her dues might partially be used for some purpose that she disapproved.
BEYDOUN v. CHRYSLER was a failed 2013-15 Michigan federal employment discrimination lawsuit filed by a Muslim employee who was terminated AFTER this lawsuit was filed. Beydoun began working at Chrysler in 2000, and in 2010 was named as a "Team Leader". Problems with co-workers began soon thereafter, which was followed with problems with the UAW, and eventually Chrysler.
Amongst Beydoun's co-worker confrontations was an alleged incident which occurred in January 2012. Beydoun got into a verbal altercation with an African-American Jehovah's Witness co-worker named Costell McIntosh. According to Beydoun, Costell McIntosh threatened him by saying "I'm the wrong motherfucking hi-lo driver to `F' with." Costell McIntosh apparently denied that the confrontation even occurred. Costell McIntosh further denied using profanity -- claiming that the use of profanity would have been contrary to his Jehovah's Witness religion. Both employees were sent home that day. After an investigation, HR could not determine which party was being truthful, so both McIntosh and Beydoun were docked 3-4 hours of pay. However, Beydoun filed a grievance challenging the dock in pay and had his penalty reduced to 2 hours.
After the Costell McIntosh incident, Beydoun also filed a grievance with the Union. In October 2012, Beydoun filed a complaint with EEOC, in which Beydoun claimed that "nothing was done", and that he was told by the Labor Supervisor that because Costell McIntosh "was Jehovah's Witness they believe his story and I was lying."
In November 2012, Beydoun filed a diversity complaint with Chrysler alleging that several Union officials discriminated against him based on his religion. Specifically, Beydoun asserted that Costell McIntosh's Jehovah's Witness religion was given preference over his Muslim religion because the investigation assumed Beydoun was lying about McIntosh's threat. HR investigated and denied Beydoun's claim that Costell McIntosh's Jehovah's Witness religion was given preferential treatment or was even a factor in the January 2012 incident.
IN RE CITY COLLEGES OF CHICAGO was a 1995 union arbitration case involving a female Faculty member who was eventually terminated for failure to comply with the City of Chicago's residency requirement which required new-hires to relocate within the city limits of Chicago within six months of hire. Typically, the terminated female faculty member attempted to use her Jehovah's Witness religious beliefs/practices to label her termination as a violation of her constitutional rights. JW Teacher claimed that as one of Jehovah's Witnesses that she was required to submit to the ultimate authority of her husband, who made the decision NOT to relocate. The JW Teacher's religious beliefs also required her to live with her husband. Thus, the residency requirement violated her right to freely practice her religion. The arbitor did not bite. The arbitor ruled against the Jehovah's Witness Teacher stating that JW Teacher was fully aware of the residency requirement when she applied for and accepted the position. Additionally, there was no religious belief that prevented JW Husband from relocating the family inside the city limits -- that was simply his personal choice.
LESLIE SAGGERS v. BRITISH RAIL was a 1976-78 British case. Leslie Saggers, age 63, of Barnham, West Sussex, began working for the railroad in 1935, but was dismissed from the "closed shop" British Rail, in August 1976, after Saggers allowed his National Union of Railwaymen membership to lapse. Saggers had refused to renew such due to his personal belief that the Union had effectively recently become a "political organization" due to recent English legislation affecting the railroads, and thus violated his WatchTower Society beliefs against being a member of a political organization. Saggers acknowledged that the WatchTower Society did not flatly prohibit joining unions, but that this Union had simply become too political for his own personal beliefs. Saggers lost twice while pursuing his wrongful dismissal before the Industrial Tribunal, but the Employment Appeal Tribunal recognized that the governing factor in such cases was the employee's own personal beliefs, not the general teachings of the employee's denomination.
THURMAN v. UNITED AUTO WORKERS was a 1942 Michigan state and possibly federal court case. A Jehovah's Witness, named Hodge Thurman, was employed in a Detroit factory owned by Murray Corporation. When Thurman refused to purchase war bonds, he was dismissed from his job by the UAW. Given that there is a 99% probability that the products that Thurman helped to manufacture were "war materials", the Union likely considered Thurman to be a hypocrite to whom they did not wish to kowtow. Thurman filed a lawsuit to regain his employment in Michigan state court, but thereafter requested that the lawsuit be dismissed because he was pursuing unspecified action against the UAW with the federal government.