Court rules Walmart was right to fire employee for anti-gay statementsAround the Nation, Bottom Highlights Thursday, April 14th, 2011
ILLINOIS – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit has ruled that Walmart did not violate the 1964 Civil Rights Act when it fired an employee for making anti-gay statements during her work break.
Tanisha Matthews, an Apostolic Christian, told other employees in the store’s break room that God does not accept gays and that gay people will “go to hell” because they’re not “right in the head,” reported Gay City News.
Five other employees confirmed the incident when Walmart investigated. Matthews was determined to have made inappropriate remarks that constituted harassment and violated the company’s zero tolerance policy for sexual orientation harassment. She was fired.
Matthews sued and claimed religious discrimination under the Civil Rights Act.
In an unsigned opinion, the Appeals Court said:
“If Matthews is arguing that Walmart must permit her to admonish gays at work to accommodate her religion, the claim fails. Walmart fired her because she violated company policy when she harassed a co-worker, not because of her beliefs, and employers need not relieve workers from complying with neutral workplace rules as a religious accommodation if it would create an undue hardship. In this case, such an accommodation would place Walmart on the ‘razor’s edge’ of liability by exposing it to claims of permitting work-place harassment.”
Matthews also claimed Walmart discriminated against her by not discharging other employees who participated in the conversation. The court responded that none of the other employees made comments about “someone’s individual status, homosexuality or race,” and there was no evidence that Walmart failed to enforce any other violations of its harassment policy.
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