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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 8, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 14
Wal-Mart wins court case for defending Lesbian
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Wal-Mart wins court case for defending Lesbian

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Wal-Mart was acting within both its legal rights and the stated policy of the company when it fired a fundamentalist Christian for harassing a Lesbian employee.

Tanisha Matthews, who worked as an overnight stocker in a Joliet, Illinois, Wal-Mart, was involved in an incident at the store in September of 2005. Store officials found during an investigation that Matthews had stood over an employee named Amy, 'screaming over her' that God rejects Gays, they don't belong 'on earth' and will 'go to hell' because they are 'not right in the head.'

Five employees came forward to substantiate the complaint.

Wal-Mart officials then fired Matthews because she had violated their Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy, a policy that is clearly posted in Wal-Mart break rooms.

Matthews shot back by suing Wal-Mart under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, saying she was fired for her religious beliefs. She also filed a racial discrimination portion of the suit, but voluntarily dropped that.

The Appeals Court ruling stated that 'if Matthews is arguing that Wal-Mart must permit her to admonish Gays at work to accommodate her religion, the claim fails.'

'Wal-Mart 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,' continued the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling.

LGBT advocacy groups are hailing the ruling as a victory that shows that religion does not trump civil rights in America.

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