Homophobia Disguised as Religious Bias Claim Tossed Out

Mellon fired an employee, in part due to his disrespectful treatment of his LGBTQ coworkers and in part due to his inappropriate work behavior.  The employee, Avraham Schwartzberg of Squirrel Hill, filed a lawsuit claiming he was discriminated against because of his religion; he's an Orthodox Jew. 

He was a member of the company's group for people with disabilities, known as HEART, and in May 2005, like all other Mellon employees, he received an e-mail inviting him to a luncheon hosted by the Mellon's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employee group with Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Five days later he received a reminder from the head of the group for disabled employees about the luncheon.

His trouble at work started two days later when he sent a note back to the head of the disability group saying it should not be lumped in with other groups of workers. His note included the line, “If you happen to be black or purple or green, etc. or happen to have this sickness called gay or lesbian, just do your job.”

The head of the group sent the note to the Human Relations department and later testified the e-mail showed a lack respect for other individuals. The company agreed and called Mr. Schwartzberg in for a meeting where he was told his e-mail reply was offensive and that while the company respected his opinion, he was required to treat all co-workers with respect. He replied later with a religious postcard and a note that said in part, “the true friend of gays and lesbians is the one that points them to help.”

A US District Judge tossed the religious bia suit out. 

Previous decisions at this level have tossed out claims that religious freedoms allow discriminatory behavior targeting gays in the workplace. 

It sickens me when people in the workplace assume that homophobia must be tolerated as an outgrowth of Christian, Jewish or any other belief system. That's bullshit.  You come to work, you leave a little bit of your personal freedoms at the door when they conflict with the personal freedoms of other individuals. 

Amen, Mellon. 


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