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Manufacturing employee fired after voicing concern with LGBT pride promotion, lawsuit claims

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Wikimedia Commons/Ludovic Bertron

A terminated employee of Arconic has filed a lawsuit claiming the manufacturing company fired him for voicing opposition to the company's promotion of LGBT pride month.

The Thomas More Society, a religious liberty law firm, is representing Daniel Snyder, a former employee of Davenport Works in Riverdale, Iowa. Arconic, the industrial company that operates Davenport Works, terminated Snyder in June 2021. 

The complaint claims Arconic terminated Snyder after he criticized the company's promotion of gay pride month in a message inadvertently posted on the company's intranet platform. 

As noted in the complaint, Snyder believed he was responding to an anonymous company survey when he called the company's use of the rainbow to promote LGBT pride "an abomination to God" because the rainbow is "not meant to be a sign for sexual gender."

The comment "offended a fellow employee."

Thomas More Society filed the complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa Wednesday, citing the longtime employee's dismissal as an example of illegal religious discrimination. Snyder's lawsuit comes 90 days after receiving the right-to-sue letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as required by law. 

"Mr. Snyder was summarily suspended and then terminated, allegedly for violating the company's 'diversity policy," the complaint stated. "Before his termination, Mr. Snyder informed Arconic representatives that he made his statement based on his sincerely held Christian beliefs; that his intent had been to respond to the anonymous survey (whereupon he was met with derisive laughter by a panel of Arconic representatives); and that he would never 'give his opinion to their solicitations again.'"

The Christian Post reached out to Arconic for comment on Snyder's lawsuit. A response was not immediately received.

The complaint criticized Arconic's "diversity policy," suggesting that it only allows workers to express "the company's approved narrative on morally freighted issues — while treating any employee's religious objection or objection to the contrary, even if intended to be anonymous and expressed in a single instance, as grounds for immediate termination with no accommodation whatsoever."

Arconic's "diversity policy" proclaims that "we have zero tolerance" for "discrimination intimidation [sic], harassment, or retaliation of any kind."  

The lawsuit characterized the company's "zero tolerance" "diversity policy" as "an intolerance policy" that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which forbids employers from discriminating against any individual based on their religion. 

Thomas More Society claims Arconic's policies are "designed to expel ... anyone who dissents for religious reasons from its corporate moral views, without the opportunity for reasonable accommodation."

"Under Title VII, 'religion' 'includes all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief, unless an employer demonstrates that he is unable to reasonably accommodate an employee's or prospective employee's religious observance or practice without undue hardship on the conduct of the employer's business," the lawsuit reads. 

The complaint requests that the court reverse Snydyer's termination and award back pay with interest, damages and attorney fees.

Snyder also seeks an injunction requiring the company to demand that its employees respect each other's religious beliefs. 

Snyder, now 63, secured employment at John Deere in the months following his termination. However, his "new job pays significantly less than his job at Arconic" and "requires him to stand throughout most of his shift." By contrast, "his more advanced position at Arconic allowed him to perform significant duties while seated in his office," a better fit for someone his age.

The complaint adds that Snyder has not been called on to work any overtime hours at John Deere, whereas he worked 50 hours of overtime per month at Arconic. Additionally, the medical benefits at John Deere are reportedly not as solid as the benefits with Arconic. 

Wednesday's lawsuit follows an unsuccessful attempt to obtain relief from the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.

"Arconic's actions clearly violated Mr. Snyder's right to be free from employment discrimination, as prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Iowa Civil Rights Act," said Thomas More Society Counsel Michael McHale in a statement. "His brief comment, in attempting to respond to a company web survey, was explicitly and facially religious.

"And yet Arconic made no effort to reasonably accommodate Mr. Snyder's religious beliefs, even though it was a one-time statement that he had intended to be anonymous and private," McHale added.

The attorney stressed that  Snyder "respects all people regardless of their sexuality" and "previously worked alongside a transgender individual at Arconic without any issues."

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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