A construction worker in Albany, Oregon, has filed a lawsuit against his former employer who fired him for not attending weekly Bible study sessions.
Ryan Coleman sued his former employer, Joel Dahl, who is the owner of Dahled Up Construction. He filed a lawsuit for $800,000 alleging Dahl forced his employees to attend a Bible study session every week which was conducted by a Christian pastor.
The lawsuit further added that the session was held every week and all workers of the company were forced to attend it.
Coleman began working with the company in 2017 where he was hired as a painter. He said he didn’t know that his job required him to do more than just fixing and building homes.
He later found out that it was obligatory for all employees to attend the weekly Bible session.
Coleman further said he raised the issue with Dahl and told him that he wasn’t comfortable in attending the study but the employer insisted that he had to attend it.
After Dahl’s insistence, Coleman said he went to the study sessions for a few months “believing he had no other choice.”
Coleman is half Native American and half Caucasian with Blackfoot and Cherokee heritage.
“Do I do something that I really am uncomfortable with and goes against my own beliefs and keep my job, or do I refuse to go and risk losing my job?” he asked himself.
Seven months into the job, Coleman decided to not go to the sessions and told Dahl it was illegal to force his employees into attending them.
The lawsuit claimed Coleman was fired from the job soon after he refused to attend the weekly sessions.
Coleman’s attorney, Corinne Schram, said, “He says his church is a sweat lodge, his bible is a drum, and that's his form of worship to the creator. A nonreligious employer cannot obligate employees to attend Bible study whether they are paid for their time or not. They can make it voluntary but they can't make it a condition of employment.”
The lawsuit is now demanding $50,000 of alleged loss of income and $750,000 from "mental stress, humiliation, inconvenience and loss of enjoyment of life” as compensation.
On the other hand, Dahl’s attorney, Kent Hickam, said the lawsuit was without merit and according to him, the requirement of attending the Bible session is not illegal because Dahl paid the employees to do that.
He further said attending the sessions was part of the workers’ job and they were expected to participate in it.
“Mr. Dahl feels that it’s unfortunate that he (Coleman) is now trying to exploit Mr. Dahl’s honorable intentions for unjustified financial gain,” said Hickam.
Hickman further justified Dahl’s action by saying that his company hires felons and people who are recovering from addiction and the session helped them hasten their recovery.
Needlessly to say, religion is a person’s personal matter and is between god and the person. No one should force someone to pray or attend worship sessions that do not conform to his beliefs.
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