Naperville Business Lawyer Discusses Oregon Lawsuit Over Mandatory Bible Study

Bible, Naperville employment law attorneyThe First Amendment to the U.S. Constitutions promises that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” This sentence is the foundation of the freedom of religion that so many of our ancestors sought when they first came to America. While the First Amendment applies to Congress and the government, other laws have been enacted to ensure the ongoing freedom to worship as one pleases.

As a business law attorney, I am very familiar with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII specifies that it is illegal for an employer to fire, refuse to hire, or otherwise to discriminate against any person because of that person’s race, color, religion, or national origin. Similar protections are offered at the state level by the Illinois Human Rights Act. Perhaps that is why I was so surprised to hear about a lawsuit that has been filed by an Oregon construction worker who claims his employer fired him for refusing to attend Bible studies on company time.

The Complaint

The Oregonian reports that a 34-year-old laborer has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against his former employer in the Circuit Court of Linn County, Oregon. According to the complaint, the man was hired as a painter, and only after he was hired, he discovered that all company employees were required to attend weekly Christian Bible studies while on the clock. The worker allegedly told his boss that such a requirement was illegal and discriminatory, but the owner of the company would not compromise. The man—who served time in prison on drug charges—said he was afraid he could not find another job easily, so he attended the Bible studies for six months, despite not being a practicing Christian.

After six months, the worker told his boss that he had kept an open mind but that Christian Bible study is “just not my thing.” He claims that the owner responded by saying, “’Well, I’m going to have to replace you.” The man was fired in April 2018, and he filed his wrongful termination lawsuit last week. The lawsuit seeks damages in the amount of $800,000.

The Other Side

An attorney for the business owner said that his client is operating legally because he is paying his workers for the time spent at the Bible study. The owner himself admitted to a dodgy past of his own and insisted that his business is a “second-chance employer” for other convicted felons. Reports indicate that the company’s social media feeds are full of references to God and Christian beliefs.

DuPage County Employment Lawyers

If you have questions about protecting your company from possible lawsuits related to employment discrimination, contact a Naperville business law attorney today. Call 630-756-1160 for a confidential consultation at The Gierach Law Firm. We will answer your questions and help you make the best decisions for your business.



Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The Oregonian