Faithandthelaw's Blog

The law as it relates to Christians and their free exercise of religion

Employees Fired and Evicted For Being “Too Religious” Should Get Day in Court

Posted by faithandthelaw on October 29, 2010

Atlanta, GA – Today Liberty Counsel will present oral arguments at the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, requesting that a trial court’s summary judgment be reversed in an employment and housing discrimination case. Daniel and Sharon Dixon were fired by The Hallmark Companies from managing an apartment complex and evicted from their apartment for being “too religious,” because they displayed, in the rental office, stained glass artwork with flowers and the phrase “Consider the lilies… Matthew 6:28.”

LiliesAfter a number of office visits, one day their supervisor asked if the artwork referred to Scripture. When Mrs. Dixon confirmed that it did, the supervisor asked her to remove it immediately. Mrs. Dixon indicated that she would bring her husband, a co-manager, into the discussion and left briefly to find him. When the Dixons returned minutes later, their supervisor had removed the artwork and told them not to bother looking for it because they were fired for being “too religious.” They were ordered to vacate their apartment within seventy-two hours.

The Dixons filed a federal action charging Hallmark with religious discrimination, but a federal district court judge ruled summarily against them, concluding incredibly that no reasonable jury could find that Hallmark discriminated against the Dixons. The court should have allowed a jury to hear the case and determine whether the Dixons were fired and evicted because of their religious beliefs.

Today, Horatio Mihet, Senior Litigation Counsel for Liberty Counsel, will present oral arguments at the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals Atlanta, Georgia. Title VII and Title VIII prohibit discrimination in employment and housing on account of religion. The removal of the picture by the supervisor was symptomatic of the bigger issue, namely that the Dixons were fired because of their religion. A ruling by the court is expected later this year.

Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: “Hallmark cannot sweep religion from the workplace. While The Hallmark Companies can chose the décor of the workplace, their supervisors cannot fire employees solely because they are ‘too religious.’ When a jury hears this case, it will be clear that The Hallmark Companies crossed the line.”

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