Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Apartment managers fired because of Christian artwork they displayed

For original article and references, click here.

Employment and housing discrimination case: Liberty University Counsel at the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals requested that a trial court’s summary judgment be reversed.

Daniel and Sharon Dixon were fired by The Hallmark Companies from managing a Florida apartment complex for being “too religious.” They were also evicted from their apartment.

Why does Hallmark consider them to be too religious? Because of a 26 inches by 50 inches stained glass artwork with the phrase, "Consider the lilies...Matthew 6:28," which was displayed in the rental office.

After asking if and learning that the artwork referred to Scripture, Hallmark supervisor Christina Saunders told Mrs. Dixon to remove it immediately. Mrs. Dixon was willing to discuss the matter with the supervisor and with her co-manager husband; and as she briefly left to find Mr. Dixon, the artwork was removed by the supervisor.

Upon their return, the supervisor told them not to bother looking for the stained glass piece because they were fired for being "too religious" and had to vacate their apartment within seventy-two hours. Saunders had removed the artwork, entered the Dixons' apartment without their permission, and placed the artwork there.

This happened in 2008 after the Dixons had managed an apartment complex owned by Hallmark in Florida for eight years. They also had worked for Hallmark Companies previously for a couple of years, managing two different complexes. Their artwork was displayed at each of those offices without complaint.

The Dixons filed a federal action claiming discrimination based on religious beliefs.

A federal district court judge ruled summarily against them saying there was no need for a jury to hear the case since no reasonable jury could possibly find any discrimination against the Dixons.

It is hard to understand how a judge could rule this way when they were fired for no reason but religion and Title VII and Title VIII clearly prohibit discrimination in employment and housing on account of religion.

"Employment discrimination occurs when an employer adversely singles out employees or job applicants on the basis of age, race/color, gender, disability, national origin, religion, pregnancy, or veteran status."

Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel, commented:

“Hallmark cannot sweep religion from the workplace. While The Hallmark Companies can choose the d├ęcor 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.”

Saunders denied allegations that she told the couple they were "too religious." Yet they were not fired for job performance.

On October 28, 2010, Horatio Mihet, Senior Litigation Counsel for Liberty Counsel, presented oral arguments:

"The artwork was displayed in the leasing office, right next to prominent disclaimers that Hallmark does not discriminate in housing decisions against anyone."

A ruling by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals is expected later this year.

Mihet is certain that the court will reverse the summary judgment, remand action back to district court with instructions to move the case to a jury trial, and that a jury will find that Hallmark did indeed unlawfully fire the Dixons for being "too religious."

"Hallmark’s counsel actually admitted during argument that, had Hallmark asked him whether the picture should be removed, he would have advised that it should stay on the wall."

Christians fired for displaying Bible verse in workplace
Let us pray. Almighty God, we pray you restore Daniel and Sharon Dixon, who were fired and evicted from managing an apartment complex by a man who said they were “too religious,” because they displayed, in the rental office, a small stained glass artwork with flowers and the phrase "Consider the lilies... Matthew 6:28." God we pray the 11th Circuit Court of appeals enforces the law, since Title VII and VIII prohibit discrimination in employment and housing on account of religion. From Matthew 5:10, bless the Dixons who are persecuted for righteousness sake. In Jesus name, Amen.  
From Pray in Jesus name project: Chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt

America was founded upon Christian tolerance of religious faith yet that very faith that gave birth to tolerance is itself not tolerated in today's America. We have gone from Pilgrims seeking religious expression of their Judeo-Christian beliefs to discrimination against those same beliefs in the name of tolerance. This is progress?

"It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here."
-- Patrick Henry

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