Reliable Answers - News and Commentary

Religious Freedom Under Attack

by: Attorney Brad Dacus
Posted October 26, 2005

Appeal Filed on Behalf of Employee Suspended for Expressing Religious Beliefs

Sacramento, CA - Attorneys with Pacific Justice Institute have filed an appeal with the California State Personnel Board on behalf of an employee who was harshly disciplined for sending an e-mail expressing her religious beliefs.

The employee, who works for a large state agency in Sacramento, read an article in a national magazine which featured a lesbian lawyer and her partner. The article quoted the lawyer as stating, "Hypocrisy occurs when religion is used to justify why two people should not be married." The employee was troubled by this statement and e-mailed the lawyer while at work to politely express her own beliefs concerning religion, homosexuality, and hypocrisy. She also quoted several verses from the New Testament.

Even though the magazine article addressed a controversial issue and had been published for an estimated readership of seven million people, the lesbian lawyer was greatly offended by this opposing viewpoint. She contacted the employee's supervisors, as well as high-level state officials, demanding action against the employee for "harassing conduct and improper use of government resources." In particular, she cited the employee's mention of Bible verses as being harassing. Supervisors at this agency have indicated in the past that employees may occasionally use their e-mail accounts for personal reasons; nevertheless, an investigation was launched and the employee was stunned to learn that she was being suspended thirty days without pay. She has just finished serving that suspension.

"Hypocrisy occurs when religion is used to justify why two people should not be married."

Pacific Justice Institute recently became involved with this case and has now filed an appeal with the State Personnel Board. The appeal points to numerous Supreme Court precedents protecting the right of government employees to speak out on issues of public concern. It also shows blatant misapplication of several policies in this case - including sexual harassment - and it documents many similar uses of e-mail which have gone unpunished.

Matthew McReynolds, the PJI Attorney who represents this state employee, commented, "Punishing this employee for privately expressing a religious viewpoint was not only unprecedented; it was unconstitutional. We will not stand idly by while free speech is flattened by political correctness."

Brad Dacus, President of Pacific Justice Institute, stated, "It is imperative that we preserve the rights of workers to express their religious convictions - especially when they are acting in their personal capacity."

Poll Question - Give us your opinion: Do you feel that religious viewpoints are tolerated in your workplace?

The Pacific Justice Institute is a non-profit 501(c)(3) legal defense organization specializing in the defense of religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties.

P.O. Box 276600 Sacramento, CA 95827-6600
Phone: (916) 857-6900
Fax (916) 857-6902
Contact: Attorney Brad Dacus (916) 857-6900

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