Columbus, Ohio (July 12, 2004) — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has determined that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) is guilty of religious discrimination for forcing a worker to affiliate with a union he believes to be involved in immoral activities. The determination follows a similar finding against the Ohio Civil Service Association (OCSA) union hierarchy last year.
The Cincinnati office of the federal agency found the OEPA’s and OCSA’s actions to be in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act after hearing the evidence and reviewing arguments provided by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys.
Glen Greenwood, an OEPA employee working in the agency’s Columbus facility, requested that OEPA officials place his forced union dues payments in escrow while he waited for a religious accommodation to paying dues to the union. As a devout Presbyterian, Greenwood believes that supporting this union violates his sincerely held religious beliefs because of the union’s support for abortion on demand and special rights for homosexuals.
In March, Greenwood received a letter from the General Counsel of the Department of Administrative Services. The letter stated that Greenwood’s request to place his forced-dues payments in escrow was denied on the basis that he did not belong to a “qualified” church. With the help of National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, Greenwood filed the religious discrimination charges with the EEOC in early May after the OCSA and OEPA refused to honor his objection to supporting the union.
“OCSA union officials simply want workers like Glen Greenwood to shut up and pay up,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Union officials’ actions show they care more about stuffing their coffers with forced union dues than with respecting the wishes of the very rank-and-file employees they claim to represent.”
The EEOC has now advised both the OEPA and OCSA that they may face prosecution in federal court if they refuse or otherwise fail to participate in informal conciliation with Greenwood.
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. 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 accommodate the employee – most often by designating a mutually acceptable charity to accept the funds.
“Glen Greenwood’s case shows that Big Labor believes paying tribute to a union is more important than paying tribute to your faith,” stated Gleason.
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.