**Columbus, OH (September 6, 2006)** – Resolving a case brought by an Ohio state employee with free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation, a federal judge signed a decree yesterday settling a religious discrimination lawsuit in union contracts for all state workers. The consent decree re-affirms that all public sector employees who have sincere religious objections to union affiliation cannot be forced to associate with and pay dues to a union they find objectionable.
The state’s agencies and the union hierarchy were denying, as a matter of policy, religious objections to the payment of forced union dues when objecting employees were not members of certain state-approved churches.
The settlement concludes a lawsuit for systemic religious discrimination filed by Foundation attorneys, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio against the State of Ohio, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OPEA), the Ohio State Employment Relations Board, the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA) union, and the Ohio Department of Administrative Services.
In a related matter, the EEOC also determined that the OCSEA union illegally retaliated against the worker who brought the original case after objecting to union affiliation on religious grounds. OCSEA union officials’ had filed a retaliatory counter-claim against Glen Greenwood – a 28-year OEPA employee – demanding that he repay the union for all raises and employment benefits he received for the past quarter century.
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.
“This decree stalls state and OCSEA union officials’ systematic religious discrimination against Ohio’s public servants,” stated National Right to Work Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason. “The union hierarchy’s willingness to violate employees’ religious freedom demonstrates how their interests are squarely at odds with the employees they claim to represent.”
The actions of OCSEA union officials and the state agencies violated 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.