Jury Awards $21 Million to Worker Fired For Taking Sundays Off For Church
One worker stood firm in honoring God by keeping the Sabbath and was rewarded greatly.
On Monday a jury awarded Miami resident Marie Jean Pierre $21 million against her former employer the Conrad Hotel, which was managed by Hilton. Pierre’s Complaint alleged that Conrad subjected her to disparate treatment because of her religious beliefs and unlawfully retaliated against her by creating a hostile work environment and ultimately terminating her in 2016.
Pierre worked as a dishwasher for the hotel since 2006. For seven years the hotel accommodated her request to not work on Sundays. Not working on Sundays was non-negotiable for the sixty-year-old Haitian immigrant.
“I love God,” Pierre told NBC 6 News. “No work on Sunday, because I honor God.”
This all changed in 2015 with the arrival of new management. Kitchen manager George Colon refused to accommodate her request and assigned her to work on Sundays. Pierre attempted to work around this by trading shifts with co-workers until Colon insisted that she work on Sundays.
After missing six Sundays, Pierre was terminated for absenteeism. She submitted a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and hired attorney Marc Brummer to represent her. Once the EEOC issued a “right to sue” letter, she filed her lawsuit in Federal court where a jury ruled in her favor.
In addition to awarding Pierre $21 million in punitive damages, the jury also awarded her $35,000 in back wages and $500,000 in emotional pain and suffering.
Federal law caps awards on punitive damages at $300,000, but her attorney still anticipates that she will receive a minimum of $500,000. For Brummer, this verdict was not able money, however.
“I didn’t do this for money. I did this to right the wrongs,” he stated.
Not surprisingly, Conrad intends to appeal the verdict and released a statement saying, “We are very disappointed by the jury’s verdict & don’t believe it is supported by the facts of this case or the law.”
Regardless of the outcome of the appeal, Pierre hopes her case will help protect others from discrimination because of their faith.
“She’s a soldier of Christ,” Brummer told NBC 6. “She was doing this for…all the other workers who are being discriminated against.”