Devout Christian, who worked as dishwasher, wins R297m in legal battle after being fired for skipping Sunday work

2019-01-21 15:19
(iStock)

(iStock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

An American woman, who worked as dishwasher at the Conrad Miami Hotel in Florida for more than a decade, has been awarded $21.5m (R297m) after winning a legal battle against her former employer.

The devout Christian was fired from her job for not showing up for work on Sundays.

Marie Jean Pierre said her employer was aware of her religious beliefs upon hiring her in 2006 and that they had been informed she would be unable to work on Sundays. But in 2016, according to NBC 6 Miami, her schedule changed.

Speaking to NBC 6 Miami, she said she didn’t work on Sundays as it was her day to honour God. "I love God, no work on Sunday, because Sunday I honour God."

The hotel respected her religious beliefs, she said, and allowed her to have Sundays off for many years. But that changed in October 2015 when a kitchen manager insisted on scheduling her to work on Sundays. Marie Jean then began switching shifts with her coworkers, reports the Miami Herald.

The arrangement lasted until March 2016 when she was fired for "alleged misconduct, negligence and unexcused absences".

After losing her job, Marie Jean contacted a lawyer who informed her that her firing was a violation of her civil rights and religious beliefs. She then filed a complaint with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing the hotel of "creating a hostile work environment".

Marie Jean ultimately filed a lawsuit in 2017 for violation of her civil rights, citing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans employment discrimination on the basis of race, colour, religion, sex or national origin.

An unfair dismissal

A jury at the Florida federal court ruled in her favour, granting her $21m (R290m) in damages plus $35 000 (R483 000) in back pay and $500 000 (R7m) for emotional pain and mental anguish.

Her attorney, Marc Brumer, told NBC 6 Miami that her dismissal had been unfair. "They accommodated her for seven years and they easily could have accommodated her, but instead of doing that they set her up for absenteeism and threw her out.

"She’s a Soldier of Christ. She was doing this for all the other workers who are being discriminated against," he added

Brumer told NBC 6 Miami the lawsuit was not about the money. "This was about sending a message to other corporations whether big or small. Whatever size you are, if you’re going to take the blood and sweat of your workers, you better accommodate them or let them at least believe in their religious beliefs. Not a preference but a belief.­­­­­­­"

But hotel management sees things differently. "We were very disappointed by the jury’s verdict, and don’t believe that it is supported by the facts of this case or the law," a statement from the hotel chain reads.

"During Ms Pierre’s 10 years with the hotel, multiple concessions were made to accommodate her personal and religious commitments. We intend to appeal, and demonstrate that the Conrad Miami was and remains a welcoming place for all guests and employees."

Sources: NBC 6 Miami, Miami Herald

Read more on:    us  |  courts  |  religion
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.