Former Ford Employee Says in Lawsuit He Shouldn’t Have Been Fired Over Anti-Gay Rant on Company’s Website

When it comes to social media, there are all manner of potential pitfalls that can impact your career — from drunken posts to public boss-bashing to, well, being Anthony Weiner. And let’s not forget tweeting campaign posters featuring Nazis.

While there are some legitimate concerns about what impact your personal social media postings should have on your job, it goes without saying that questionable postings directly on your company’s intranet, social media sites, or websites are likely to cause problems.

At least, I thought it went without saying. Turns out that Thomas Banks, a former Ford Motors Company employee, missed that memo. As far as he’s concerned, he was well within his rights to post inflammatory anti-gay opinions on Ford’s intranet site. Why? Because they were faith-based opinions, giving him a way around the company’s anti-harassment policies — anything else is a violation of his religious liberty!

In reality, the move cost Banks his job. But he believes the termination was discriminatory, and he’s suing for damages.

It’s worth noting exactly how this came up and what was said in the post that got him canned. Kate Abbey-Lambertz at Huffington Post explains:

A year ago, Banks commented on a Ford intranet article celebrating the 20th anniversary of GLOBE, a group fostering an inclusive workplace for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees, saying Ford has no place promoting sodomy or “immoral sexual conduct” and should be “thoroughly ashamed.”

Banks’ full post read:

For this Ford Motor should be thoroughly ashamed. Endorsing and promoting sodomy is of benefit to no one. This topic is disruptive to the workplace and is an assault on Christians and morality, as well as antithetical to our design and our survival. Immoral sexual conduct should not be a topic for an automotive manufacturer to endorse or promote. And yes — this is historic — but not in a good way. Never in the history of mankind has a culture survived that promotes sodomy. Heterosexual behavior creates life — homosexual sexual behavior leads to death.

Now this is some pretty hateful and bizarre speech (particularly the focus on particular sex acts, which, as Abbey-Lambertz notes, the article he was responding to never actually mentioned). And it’s certainly not appropriate for the workplace. But Banks believes that, since the comment was based on his religious beliefs, he should have been free to make it without penalty.

In other words, he’s saying harassment policies don’t apply if the harasser is motivated by religion.

In Banks’ complaint, he argues — without irony — that he

… respects others, even those who disagree with him, as he has throughout his career, and merely hopes for the same respect in turn.

One can’t help but wonder if he actually read the post he was putting on the company website; and, if he did, how he thinks declaring that homosexuality “leads to death,” is “immoral,” etc., is respectful or inclusive. Or do words, as well as company policy, cease to have import, if said through a religious filter?

(Image via Shutterstock)

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