Three employees decided to meet together after work and pray for a colleague that had been causing them problems. They met at their colleague’s cubicle on a day that she was not even in the office. Learn more about how a court decided this case by listening to FirstLiberty.org/Briefing.
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Employees Fired for Praying Over Absent Colleague
Evelyne Shatkin, Linda Shifflett, and Doug Maples took prayer seriously. So, seriously in fact, that they decided to meet together after work and pray for a colleague that had been causing them problems. They met at the cubicle of their colleague after work on a day that she was not even in the office.
Their prayer got pretty serious.
They anointed the cubicle with oil, according to Shatkin’s religious tradition. They prayed for peace and joy for their colleague. They even commanded “demons to leave” their colleague as they prayed.Word got back to their supervisors about the after-hours prayer meeting. After an investigation, the supervisor concluded that “the nature, the manner that they’re praying, what language they’re using” determines whether the prayer was harassment.
Human resources agreed and notified the prayer-givers that they would be terminated for their harassing prayers. Shatkin and Shifflett asked for a religious accommodation for the prayers, but that was denied. They were fired.
First Liberty Institute took up their case. A federal district court sided with the employees, as it concluded,
“Can a prayer for someone constitute harassment when the alleged object of the prayer is unaware of it? This court suspects not.”
In fact, the court concluded that the college’s own policies protected the prayers of these employees. Firing someone for their peaceful exercise of religion at work doesn’t have a prayer.
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First Liberty Institute is the largest organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to protecting religious freedom for all Americans. Find out more here.
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