Christian Lighting Company Sued Over Decision Not to Hire Employee Who's 'Not Christian Enough'
By Ruth Miyake - Crossmap On June 19, 2012
A Nebraska-based Christian lighting company is facing a lawsuit for alleged religious discrimination against a job seeker.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit against the Voss Lighting Company in Lincoln, Neb. For requiring prospective employees to be Christian.
According to the suit, a job seeker Edward Wolfe applied to be a supervisor at the company's Tulsa store in 2011, but was not hired because he stated in his interviews that he was unwilling to arrive to work early to attend a Bible study.
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At the interview, Wolfe was asked whether he was "saved" and whether he could come early to attend Bible study with no pay.
According to the complaint, the manager also asked Wolfe "to identify every church he has attended over the past several years; where and when [he] was 'saved' and the circumstances that led up to it," reports ABC News.
On its website, the lighting company states that "our biblical mission is to 'sell' our lighting products so that we may 'tell' everyone we can about God's soul-saving, life transforming gospel message."
Wolfe claims that he was not hired because he was "not Christain enough."
The EEOC explained in a press release that they took up the case because of their belief that Voss' actions were in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to The Christian Post.
"Despite being considered qualified for the position, which involved no religious duties or responsibilities, Wolfe was denied employment on the basis of his religious beliefs," reads the statement.
"The EEOC's suit seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages and reinstatement or front pay for Wolfe as well as injunctive relief, including a court order prohibiting Voss Lighting from any further discrimination against applicants on the basis of their religious beliefs or non-beliefs."
Voss was specifically violating Title VII of the Act, said Barbara A. Seely, regional attorney of the EEOC's St. Louis District Office.
"Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has long prohibited a private employer from discriminating against applicants or employees based on their religious beliefs or practices – or lack thereof," Seely explained in a statement.
"The level of intolerance demonstrated by Voss Lighting is inconsistent with the values of the free and diverse society embodied in these laws."
The company responded in a statement that they turned down Wolfe not because of his religious beliefs but because someone else was more qualified.
"The individual hired by Voss had more lighting product experience and was more qualified," stated Vice president and general manager Steve Sanderson.