Cincinnati, Ohio (September 24, 2008) – National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys recently obtained settlements with the National Education Association (NEA) union for two teachers whose consciences would not allow them to pay mandatory dues to support a union involved in activities they consider immoral. Geralyn Buening and Tessy Huwer, both practicing Catholics, objected to the NEA’s positions on abortion and special rights for homosexuals.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act forbids discrimination against religious employees and requires companies and unions to attempt to reasonably accommodate employees’ sincerely-held religious beliefs. The obligation to accommodate includes the payment of compulsory union fees, as no employee should be forced to fund a union that engages in activities that offend their religious convictions.
The Ohio teachers originally filed charges against the NEA teacher union with the Ohio Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), alleging that the union was in violation of their rights as religious objectors. In return for withdrawing the charges, the settlement allows the teachers to redirect their mandatory agency fees to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, rather than pay any funds whatsoever to a union hierarchy steeped in objectionable social activism.
The Ohio Education Association (OEA) has a long and abusive record of refusing to accommodate religious objectors in the workplace. National Right to Work Foundation attorneys have helped Ohio teachers in dozens of cases over the last decade involving the OEA and its affiliates. The EEOC has filed suit against OEA affiliates and released findings that OEA affiliates violated the rights of religious objectors. Congress has also investigated the problem of the OEA and its treatment of employees of faith. In fact, one OEA attorney went so far as to tell Carol Katter, a life-long Catholic, that she should “change religions” when she requested a religious accommodation to redirect her union fees to a charitable organization.
“While we applaud the EEOC for working with our legal aid team to reach an equitable settlement, abuses of this nature will continue as long as Ohio lacks a Right to Work law,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Making union affiliation completely voluntary is the most effective way to free employees from the abuses of forced unionism.”
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.