Can your employer penalize you for religious noncompliance?

A Catholic woman, who was recently fired from her job, is suing the bottled water company that employed her, claiming she was discriminated against when she was pressured and harassed, denied pay raises, and eventually wrongfully terminated because she refused to accept Scientology as her religion.

Echevarria-Hernandez claims that after being hired as a “brand ambassador” for her employer, she was quickly subjected to a barrage of pressure, discrimination, and harassment on the basis of her religion. In fact, Ms. Echevarria-Hernandez claims that she was pressured into watching indoctrination videos about Scientology on her first day on the job. She was also advised by her supervisor that she would not be entitled to pay increases unless she agreed to participate in “self-betterment courses”, which largely consisted of being subjected to pro-Scientology propaganda.

Although she had never been accused of poor performance before, her supervisor wrote her up three times on one day accusing her of not fulfilling her job duties. Ms. Echevarria-Hernandez was fired the next day.

She filed a lawsuit arising from the termination of her employment. In her lawsuit, the plaintiff states that her termination was not based on “deficient job performance as the defendant claims,” but rather on her differing religious views. Echevarria-Hernandez alleges that her former employer unlawfully discriminated against her on the basis of religion. She is seeking compensation for past and future lost income and benefits, emotional distress, and punitive damages. No court date has yet been set.

If you are being discriminated against or harassed at work because of your religious views (or lack thereof), experienced religious discrimination and harassment lawyers like Lenzo & Reis, LLC can help.