A Pennsylvania man who was terminated from his job at a local school district has filed a rather atypical civil rights employment lawsuit. The former employee has asserted that the termination constituted an act of religious discrimination, as he was terminated after refusing to comply with a task that violated his religious beliefs.
While a case involving religious discrimination may sound more deplorable than atypical, the man's religion, Satanism, is likely to turn some curious heads. While Satanism is often associated with devil worshiping, witchcraft, and evil deeds, these are actually incorrect, and likely offensive, stereotypes. The organization is actually trying to do good things for the world.
Religious Beliefs of the Damned
Under the law, it does not matter what religion a person belongs to, just that the religious beliefs be genuinely espoused, and that the organization, if any, be recognized by the government. If a person suffers discrimination as a result of their beliefs, then a person can assert a religious discrimination claim.
Although some may find it distasteful, Satanism is an actual organized religion. But the members don't actually worship the devil, a fact which the organization is usually quick to point out. However, there are very specific teachings and principles that members follow. Most, if not all, of the teachings involve treating other people, and the world, with respect and dignity. That means, apparently, no ritual sacrifices, devil worshiping, murders, beheadings, drinking of blood, or any of the other stereotypical assumptions.
Details of the Case
The plaintiff in this case is alleging that he was asked to assist with rescheduling a parent interview that was being bumped as a result of nepotism. According to Satanism, and the plaintiff's complaint, all individuals should be treated equally, and the request to reschedule someone to assist with an act of nepotism runs afoul of that teaching.
When the plaintiff refused and complained that the task violated his religion, he was terminated. It is also alleged that the reason provided to the plaintiff for his termination was merely a pretext to hide the discriminatory, or retaliatory, termination.
The most important takeaway for employers from this case is to not dismiss employee assertions of religious discrimination lightly.