It was only fitting that during the week of Religious Freedom Day, an employee whose religious freedom was not being honored by her employer received a jury verdict in her favor.
The verdict, which came from a federal jury in Florida, was a $21.5 million award for a Christian woman who was fired by her employer, the Conrad Hotel, because she would not work on Sundays. She would not work on that day because of her Christian convictions.
The total amount of the award includes $36,000 for lost wages, $500,000 for emotional wages, and $21 million in punitive damages.
“Marie Jean Pierre worked as a dishwasher at the Conrad from 2006 to 2016,” The Miami Herald reported. “The hotel knew about her involvement in the Soldiers of Christ Church that prevented her from working Sundays. But in 2015, her boss, kitchen manager George Colon, assigned her to work Sundays anyway.”
When Pierre stayed true to her Christian convictions and would not work on Sundays, the hotel fired her. Pierre eventually filed a lawsuit against the hotel, which is managed by HEI Hotels & Resorts. The lawsuit stated that the “defendant retaliated against Plaintiff by, among other things, creating a hostile work environment for Plaintiff, reprimanding Plaintiff for her religious beliefs, and terminating Plaintiff.”
“I love God. No work on Sunday, because Sunday I honor God,” Pierre told NBC 6.
Marc Brumer, Pierre’s attorney, went on to explain to local media just how big the win was for his client.
“They accommodated her for seven years, and they easily could have accommodated her, but instead of doing that, they set her up for absenteeism and threw her out,” he said. “She’s a soldier of Christ. She was doing this for all the other workers who are being discriminated against.”
“This was not about money,” the attorney continued. “This was about sending a message to other corporations whether big or small. Whatever size you are, if you’re going to take the blood and sweat of your workers, you better accommodate them or let them at least believe in their religious beliefs. Not a preference but a belief.”
HEI Hotels & Resorts is part of the Hilton brand, and needless to say, they are not pleased with the jury’s verdict.
“We 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,” the company said in a statement. “During Ms. Pierre’s 10 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.”
The United States has been committed to the freedom of religion and free speech since the very beginning. The Founders of the country fought and died for this freedom. So, in keeping with that longstanding tradition, it is only fitting that people like Pierre should be able to freely practice their religious convictions without the interference of an employer.
~ Patriotic Freedom Fighter