Cleveland, Ohio (September 29, 2003) – The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has found that officials of the National Education Association (NEA) teacher union and several affiliates are repeatedly violating the rights of teachers of faith to refrain from unwanted union affiliation on the basis of their sincerely held religious beliefs.
The formal determination released in recent days by EEOC officials comes on the heels of a two-year battle waged for teachers of religious faith by attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation that led to congressional hearings, sustained national media coverage, and ultimately, a previous conciliation agreement requiring the unions to refrain from hamstringing and harassing teachers who asserted religious objections to supporting a union they believe to be involved in immoral activities.
The conciliation agreement signed last fall, which EEOC officials have now determined the the NEA, Ohio Education Association, and a local affiliate union have violated, required union officials to process teachers’ religious objections in a timely fashion and not to require a renewed objection each year.
“This outrageous and repeated religious discrimination by NEA officials shows they think they are above the law and they have no respect for people of faith,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “These tactics are designed to harass and deter teachers who consider objecting to the NEA’s radical political and social agenda.”
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, union officials may not force any employee to financially support a union if doing so violates the employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs. In order to accommodate the conflict between an employee’s faith and a requirement to pay fees to a union he believes to be immoral, the law allows employees instead to donate that money to charity.
The unions’ continuing violations of Title VII became apparent during the investigation of charges filed at the EEOC. Foundation attorneys helped William Morgan, a practicing Quaker and custodian at Mentor Public Schools, who asserted a religious objection to supporting the union because it promotes pro-abortion and pro-homosexuality positions. In January 2003, Morgan asked the union hierarchy to accommodate his sincere religious objection, but he was rebuffed and union officials insisted he pay a fee to support the NEA and its affiliates.