Devout Christian Marie Jean Pierre recently won a $21.5 million verdict, ending a religious freedom lawsuit she filed against her employer, Conrad Miami Hotel.
Marie Jean Pierre, a devout Christian woman, is resting easy after winning a $21.5 million verdict, ending a complaint she and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed against her employer, Conrad Miami Hotel. The complaint was originally filed when she was “fired for not showing up for her six Sunday shifts.”
According to the complaint, Pierre worked for the hotel as a dishwasher for nearly a decade before being terminated. On Sundays, she spent her time at church, something her employer was aware of. However, in 2015, her manager, George Colon, “began scheduling her on Sundays.” For a while, she was able to trade shifts with co-workers. Unfortunately, Colon began demanding “that she herself report for work on Sundays.” She refused, which resulted in her termination in March 2016.
In an interview regarding the matter, she said, “I love God, no work on Sunday, because Sunday I honor God.”
In response to being fired, Pierre filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, arguing that her termination was a “violation of her civil rights and religious beliefs.” She also charged her employer with “creating a hostile work environment,” and filed a lawsuit in Mary 2017 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.”
In an statement, her attorney, Marc Brumer, said:
“They accommodated her for seven years, and they easily could have accommodated her, but instead of doing that, they set her up for absenteeism and threw her out. She’s a soldier of Christ. She was doing this for all the other workers who are being discriminated against.”
It’s important to note, however, that the $21.5 million in damages is pretty symbolic “due to caps on punitive damages in federal court.” Because of these caps, it’s estimated that Pierre will only walk away with about $500,000. Nonetheless, both Pierre and her attorney insist the case was more about standing up for religious freedom than money.
When commenting on the verdict, Bruner said:
“This was not about money. This was about sending a message to other corporations whether big or small. Whatever size you are, if you’re going to take the blood and sweat of your workers, you better accommodate them or let them at least believe in their religious beliefs. Not a preference but a belief.”
The hotel, however, intends to appeal the court’s decision. It issued the following statement:
“We were very disappointed by the jury’s verdict, and don’t believe that it is supported by the facts of this case or the law,” a statement from the hotel chain reads. “During Ms. Pierre’s 10 years with the hotel, multiple concessions were made to accommodate her personal and religious commitments. We intend to appeal, and demonstrate that the Conrad Miami was and remains a welcoming place for all guests and employees.”