Thursday October 28, 2010

Appeals Court to Hear Case of Employees Allegedly Fired for Being “Too Religious”

ATLANTA, Georgia, October 28, 2010 ( – The Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta is set to hear oral arguments Thursday whether a case involving two employees of the Hallmark Corporation who were allegedly fired for being “too religious” should go to trial.

According to the public interest firm Liberty Counsel, Daniel and Sharon Dixon were fired by The Hallmark Companies from managing an apartment complex and evicted from their apartment because they displayed, in the rental office, stained glass artwork with flowers and the phrase “Consider the lilies… Matthew 6:28.”

Federal civil rights legislation Title VII and Title VIII prohibit discrimination in employment and housing on account of religion.

According to Liberty Counsel, the Dixons’ supervisor asked one day if the artwork in their office referred to Scripture. When Mrs. Dixon confirmed that it did, the supervisor asked her to remove it immediately. Mrs. Dixon indicated that she would bring her husband, a co-manager, into the discussion and left briefly to find him.

However, the Dixons allege that when they returned minutes later, the supervisor had removed the artwork and told them they were fired for being “too religious.” They say they were then ordered to vacate their apartment within seventy-two hours.

A federal district court judge had issued a summary judgment saying that no reasonable jury would convict Hallmark of religious discrimination.

However attorneys with Liberty Counsel are arguing before the federal appeals court that the Dixons deserve to have a jury hear the case and determine whether they were fired and evicted on account of their religious beliefs.

“Hallmark cannot sweep religion from the workplace,” said Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel. “While The Hallmark Companies can chose the décor of the workplace, their supervisors cannot fire employees solely because they are ‘too religious.’ When a jury hears this case, it will be clear that The Hallmark Companies crossed the line.”

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