As the dust settles around Arconic’s contentious negotiations with the steel workers union, the manufacturing giant is on the hot seat again, this time over accusations of religious discrimination. On May 18, 2022, an employee terminated from the company’s Davenport Works in Riverdale, Iowa, filed a federal lawsuit over religious discrimination against the global corporation headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The lawsuit follows the termination of former longtime Arconic employee, Daniel Snyder, in June 2021, from his lead operator position at the lightweight metal engineering and manufacturing facility. Arconic terminated Snyder, a devout Christian, based on a single religious comment he made in attempting to respond to an anonymous company survey. In his comment, Snyder expressed his objection to Arconic’s use of the rainbow to promote “Gay Pride Month,” stating briefly that using the rainbow in this manner is “an abomination to God,” as the rainbow “is not meant to be a sign for sexual gender.”
As Snyder informed Arconic, his statement was based on his deeply held religious beliefs that the Bible clearly shows that the rainbow is meant to be a sign of the covenant between God and man, and that marriage is only between one man and one woman. Snyder’s statement was consistent with the United States Supreme Court’s 2015 admonition in Obergefell v. Hodges (finding a right to same-sex marriage in the Constitution) that “those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned,” according “to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.”
However, Arconic notified Synder that his comment had been posted publicly on the company “intranet” – which had not been his intent – and that it had offended a fellow employee. Snyder was summarily suspended and then terminated, allegedly for violating the company’s “diversity policy.” Arconic made no legitimate effort to reasonably accommodate Snyder, even though his statement was manifestly religious, and despite the fact that he informed Arconic that he would not attempt to respond to its solicitations for his opinions again. Since then, Snyder has exhausted his administrative remedies, through which Arconic still made no attempt to reasonably accommodate his religious beliefs.
Thomas More Society attorneys sent a demand letter to Arconic Corporation’s Executive Vice President of Human Resources explaining that Snyder’s termination flagrantly violated federal and state employment law, including its requirement that employers reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious belief that conflicts with company policy, unless an accommodation would be an “undue hardship” to the employer. Because Arconic refused to offer a reasonable accommodation for his religious beliefs, and rejected the Thomas More Society’s letter requesting a fair settlement, Snyder filed this lawsuit.
“Arconic’s actions clearly violated Mr. Snyder’s right to be free from employment discrimination based on religion, as prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Iowa Civil Rights Act,” explained Michael McHale, Counsel at the Thomas More Society. “His brief comment, in attempting to respond to a company web survey, was explicitly and facially religious. And yet Arconic made no effort to reasonably accommodate Mr. Snyder’s religious beliefs, even though it was a one-time statement that he had intended to be anonymous and private.”
“Because of his Christian beliefs, Mr. Snyder respects all people regardless of their sexuality, and he previously worked alongside a transgender individual at Arconic without any issues,” added McHale. “His sincerely held Christian beliefs also include the reasonable understanding that the Bible teaches marriage is only between one man and one woman. He also sincerely believes that the Bible shows that the rainbow is a sign of the covenant between God and man, and thus that it is sacrilegious to use the rainbow to promote relationships and ideologies that violate God’s law.”
Arconic had previously acknowledged Snyder’s religious faith, having granted him a religious accommodation to not work on Sundays so he could preach at a local church service in his capacity as a part-time pastor. Snyder also previously sought, and had been denied, permission to start a formal prayer group, but he sometimes prayed informally with co-workers in the office, including with managerial employees.
A company report confirms that Snyder was disciplined for “violating Arconic’s Diversity Policy” by making an allegedly “offensive comment” on the company intranet, even though it was a one-time expression of his sincerely held religious beliefs, which triggered his rights under federal and state anti-discrimination law.
“Ironically,” noted McHale, “It is Arconic that is refusing to respect the diversity of Mr. Snyder’s beliefs or to acknowledge that he was offended by the company’s choice to coopt the rainbow to promote same-sex marriage and gender ideology. Arconic, in its attempt to force Mr. Synder to eschew his deeply and sincerely held religious beliefs, without attempting to reasonably accommodate him, has violated a very basic tenet of both federal and state anti-discrimination law.”
Read the Complaint filed May 18, 2022, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa by Thomas More Society attorneys in Daniel Snyder v. Arconic, Inc. here.
SOURCE Thomas More Society