**Columbus, OH (June 20, 2006)** — Following a related and unprecedented Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a determination against the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA) union for illegal retaliation against a worker who objects to union affiliation on religious grounds.
Agreeing with National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, the EEOC found that OCSEA union officials’ retaliatory suit against Glen Greenwood – a 28-year Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) employee – demanding that he repay the union for all raises and employment benefits he received for the past quarter century was unlawful retaliation for his complaint against the union requesting religious accommodation.
The EEOC found the retaliation to be so severe that it could seek up to $300,000 in punitive damages and ask the state to grant Greenwood a promotion.
An earlier charge, also filed for Greenwood with free legal assistance from the Foundation, had already led to a finding by the EEOC that the OCSEA union and the OEPA were guilty of religious discrimination. Despite the EEOC finding, the state’s agencies and the OCSEA union have maintained their practice of denying religious objections to the payment of forced union dues from employees who are not members of certain state-approved churches.
As a devout Presbyterian, Greenwood believes that supporting the OCSEA union violates his sincerely held religious beliefs because of the union’s support for abortion on demand and special rights for homosexuals.
Previously, recognizing a pattern and practice of civil rights infringement, the DOJ filed an unprecedented lawsuit in federal court against the State of Ohio and several state agencies in September 2005 for systemic religious discrimination. The DOJ suit – filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio – names the State of Ohio, the OEPA, the Ohio State Employment Relations Board, the OCSEA union, and the Ohio Department of Administrative Services as defendants.
“This determination from the EEOC and the unprecedented involvement by the DOJ in a case of this nature demonstrates the seriousness of the abuse that Ohio employees face when objecting to union affiliation on religious grounds,” stated National Right to Work Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason.
The actions of OCSEA union officials and the aforementioned state agencies violate Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Under Title VII, an employee may not be forced to financially support a union if doing so violates his or her sincerely held religious beliefs. To avoid the conflict between an employee’s faith and a requirement to pay fees to a union he or she believes to be immoral, the law requires union officials to attempt to accommodate the employee – most often by designating a mutually acceptable charity to accept the funds.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.