Two former employees of a North Carolina contracting company claim they were given the ax because they refused to participate in the firm’s daily “cult-like” Christian prayer meetings.
John McGaha and Mackenzie Saunders have filed a federal discrimination lawsuit.
The two allege in their lawsuit that was filed Monday that the owner of Aurora Pro“created a hostile work environment, based on religion” and threatened to fire employees who didn’t attend the sessions, NBC News reported.
“You have to participate,” the owner said, according to the lawsuit. “If you do not participate, that is okay, you don’t have to work here. You are getting paid to be here.”
Saunders claims that the prayer meetings “lasted nearly an hour during which, Defendant’s owner, would pray and recite scripture from the Bible.”
“Ms. Saunders describes the behavior as ‘ranting,’” the lawsuit states. “Ms. Saunders began to feel as though the meetings became ‘cult-like’ after the owner required everyone to recite the Catholic version of the Lord’s Prayer in unison.”
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Greensboro, North Carolina, which was the same day the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a high school football coach in Washington State who was known for kneeling and praying on the field after games were protected by the Constitution.
The company website does not explicitly say that someone has to be a Christian to work there. However, it does say that “the solution can always be found in the Lord.”
“We cannot provide any additional information beyond what is in the complaint,” said Mary Kate Littlejohn, the trial attorney for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, which filed the lawsuit.
The employment commission released a statement saying Aurora Pro Services “violated federal law when it required employees to participate in religious prayer sessions as a condition of employment and retaliated against employees who opposed the unlawful practice.”
“Federal law protects employees from having to choose between their sincerely held religious beliefs and their jobs,” said Melinda C. Dugas, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District. “Employers who sponsor prayer meetings in the workplace have a legal obligation to accommodate employees whose personal religious or spiritual views conflict with the company’s practice.”