Virginia School Employee Claims Retaliation for Reporting Religious Harassment

A former media-aid assistant at a Virginia middle school has sued in federal court, alleging she was fired in retaliation for complaining about her supervisor’s prosletyzing.

Judith Scott has alleged that her supervisor repeatedly tried to force her to participate in prayer meetings and religious events at work.
Scott’s supervisor asked her to attend a religious conference with other faculty members. After Scott declined to attend, the supervisor and others sent her a number of Christian-themed media from the conference. Scott also alleges the supervisor would leave religious-themed post-its and daily Bible verses around for Scott. The supervisor also held prayer meetings at the school library where Scott worked in which the supervisor would “anoint” the premises and “lay hands” on the attendees.

Rather than give Scott an “amen” when she complained, an assistant superintendent offered her a transfer; Scott declined because she felt she had not done anything wrong. When Scott’s contract ended, the school did not renew it.

Source: U.S. News and World Report blog by Bonnie Erbe

Religion in the workplace can be one of the trickiest issues for an employer–avoiding religious discrimination through reasonable accommodation, while avoiding the creation of a hostile environment based on religion. To further complicate matters in this case, there may be an additional First Amendment dimension because the employer is a public entity.

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