Jury awards $21.5-m to woman who suffered religious discrimination

Jury awards $21.5-m to woman who suffered religious discrimination January 19, 2019

MARIE Jean Pierre, a dishwasher at a Miami hotel, took her employers to court for asking her work on Sundays.

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But she’s only better off to the tune of $500,000 because a cap was put on the damages a jury believed she deserved for having suffered religious discrimination at the Conrad Miami, which ultimately sacked her. The jury also found she was due $35,000 in back wages and $500,000 for emotional pain and mental anguish.

The award was made on Tuesday by the US District Court in Miami.

Pierre, 60, is a mother of six and a member of the Soldiers of Christ Church, a Catholic missionary group that helps the poor, her attorney said.

Pierre said in the lawsuit that she informed the Conrad Miami from the beginning of her employment that she could not work Sundays because of her religious beliefs.

I love God. No work on Sunday, because Sunday I honor God.

In 2009, she alleged the hotel scheduled her to work on a Sunday. She says she told her employer she would have to resign, but in an effort to persuade her not to quit, they accommodated her request until 2015.

Sometime in 2015, the kitchen manager at the Conrad Miami, “demanded” Pierre work Sundays, the lawsuit states and for a short time allowed her to swap shifts with other coworkers to have the day off.

On March 31, 2016, Pierre says she was fired for alleged misconduct, negligence and “unexcused absences”, according to the lawsuit.

Although there is a cap on punitive damage awards in federal court, Pierre’s attorney Marc Brumer said he expects she will receive at least $500,000. He said:

I asked for $50 million, knowing that I was capped at $300,000. I didn’t do this for money. I did this to right the wrongs.

Owners of the hotel said they were:

Very disappointed by the jury’s verdict, and don’t believe that it is supported by the facts of this case or the law. During Ms. Pierre’s ten years with the hotel, multiple concessions were made to accommodate her personal and religious commitments. We intend to appeal, and demonstrate that the Conrad Miami was and remains a welcoming place for all guests and employees.

Meanwhile, in Missouri federal judge this week ruled against a lesbian couple who sued a retirement home for rejecting their apartment application because their marriage is not “understood in the Bible.”

Image via Twitter

Bev Nance, above right,  68, and Mary Walsh, 72, were married a decade ago in Massachusetts and have been in a committed relationship for roughly 40 years.

Julie Wilensky, an attorney representing the couple said that when they applied to move into the Friendship Village senior living facility, they did so:

Because it is in their community, they have friends there, and it offers services that would allow them to stay together there for the rest of their lives,” said Julie Wilensky, an attorney representing the couple.

Their claim was dismissed because the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Missouri and other Midwestern states, ruled in 1989 that existing federal civil rights law:

Does not prohibit discrimination against homosexuals.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • alverant

    So it’s OK for christians to discriminate, just don’t deny them special treatment. Pierre knew she’d have to work Sundays when she took the job. Both cases were wrongfully decided.

  • lady_black

    Anyone who works in a 24/7 facility, in this case a hotel, KNOWS that they will be required to work Sundays. We can’t give all the Christians Sundays off. Who would do the work? I’m glad the hotel is appealing.

  • Jim Jones

    > In 2009, she alleged the hotel scheduled her to work on a Sunday. She says she told her employer she would have to resign, but in an effort to persuade her not to quit, they accommodated her request until 2015.

    A deal is a deal. And employers who do shit like this are stupid. Stick to your word.