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Texas: Employee Claims Religious Discrimination over Bible Content in E-Mails

By Susan R. Heylman  4/28/2014
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A Buddhist employee filed a religious discrimination suit in federal court in Texas, alleging that his employer fired him for refusing to put Bible quotations in a daily email update that he had to distribute to all employees.

The employee, Jef Mindrup, was the director of marketing communications for Goodman Networks, a Plano, Texas, company that sells wireless network services. Part of his job was to write and e-mail “The Morning Coffee,” a daily company newsletter to the company’s more than 500 employees. He had worked for the company for eight years when he was fired.

In his filing, Mindrup claimed that, on March 14, 2012, the company’s co-founder, Jody Goodman, who was a member of the board and vice-president of staffing, corporate travel, and diversity, ordered him to add Bible quotations to the newsletter beginning the next morning. Mindrup alleged that he responded that he was unable to add quotations or scriptures from the Bible to the newsletter as requested because they would offend his own personal religious beliefs as well as the beliefs of other employees.

Mindrup contended that Goodman replied in an e-mail that he respected Mindrup’s beliefs, but that the next day Goodman fired him for his refusal to include the Bible quotations in the newsletter, without any warning or progressive discipline.

Mindrup filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. In its response, the company said that Mindrup was laid off as part of a planned reduction in force. After receiving a right-to-sue letter, Mindrup filed suit, claiming that the company’s reason was a pretext and that it unlawfully discriminated against him because of his sincerely held religious beliefs. He alleges that the employer failed to accommodate him on the basis of his religion by requiring him to proselytize the Christian religion, a religion which was not his own.

He is seeking lost wages and damages for Title VII discrimination and punitive damages for pain and suffering.

Mindrup v. Goodman Networks Inc., E.D. Tex., No. 4:2014-CV-00157 (filed March 20, 2014).

Susan R. Heylman, J.D., is a freelance legal writer and editor based in the Washington, D.C., area.

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