Miami Dishwasher Fired Over Work On Sunday Wins In Court: Is This A Good Precedent?

A Miami dishwasher gets awarded $21.5m after her former employee fired her over work on Sunday. Should religious beliefs be accommodated in the workplace? 

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source: NBC News

A Christian woman, Marie Jean Pierre, is thanking God and singing hallelujah all the way to the bank after a jury awarded her $21.5m for being forced to work on Sundays.

Accompanied by her lawyer, Marc Brumer, Pierre confessed that as a member of the Bethel Baptist Church located in Miami, Florida she is a missionary and she has to devout her Sundays to God.

For more than ten years, Pierre, who worked as a dishwasher at the Hilton’s Miami Conrad property claims that her religious needs were accommodated.

However, a few years ago, the company told the 60-year old that they could no longer bend the rules for her.

The religious woman defied her manager and missed six scheduled Sundays of work to take part in the services at the Bethel Baptist Church, and she was consequently fired, prompting her to file a lawsuit.

Pierre told a local reporter: "I love God. No work on Sunday, because Sunday I honor God."

 "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," said Mr. Brumer while defending his client.

Pierre will not receive the amount of $21 million because there is a cap on punitive damage awards in federal court.

According to the attorney, she will get a check of $500,000. The lawyer said: "I asked for $50 million, knowing that I was capped at $300,000. I didn't do this for money. I did this to right the wrongs."

He added: "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."

 The company issued a statement saying the will appeal the jury's decision.