Without admitting any wrongdoing, the Ohio state government has settled a religious discrimination suit brought by three former members of the Workers’ Compensation Council.
The WCC is the legislative panel that oversees the Bureau of Workers Compensation.
The three workers will split $55,000, plus $15,000 in attorneys’ fees after they were fired in February by Council Director Virginia McInerney.
In addition to her WCC duties, McInerney is a published evangelical Christian author. The workers—two staff attorneys and an executive assistant—claim they were fired after they resisted McInerney’s proselytizing. She allegedly insisted they pray at work, watch Christian videos and read her book. In one instance, McInerney allegedly claimed a Senate resolution was “another of Satan’s efforts to stall or impede the council’s progress.”
As part of the settlement, the three employees’ personnel records will be updated to say they had resigned.
Note: While employers must reasonably accommodate employees’ religious practices, employees who create a hostile work environment by pushing their beliefs on others aren’t entitled to protection.
In this case, one employee’s proselytizing cost Ohio taxpayers $70,000—plus the time state attorneys spent working on the case, the time the WCC spent short-staffed and the cost of hiring and training three new employees.