A federal appeals court in Illinois has ruled that Walmart Stores did not violate an employee’s civil rights when it fired her for making anti-gay comments towards a lesbian co-worker at a store in Joliet, Ill.
Tanisha Matthews claimed religious discrimination under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and that she was fired for her religious-based statements about gay people.
According to the unsigned ruling, Tanisha Matthews, who describes herself as an Apostolic Christian, worked as an overnight stocker at a Walmart store … while on a break, she took part in a heated conversation with other employees about God and homosexuality.
Another employee who participated reported to management that Matthews was “screaming over her” that God does not accept gays, they should not “be on earth,” and they will “go to hell” because they are not “right in the head.” During a company investigation of the incident, five other employees confirmed that Matthews said gays are sinners who are going to hell.
Walmart fired Matthews after the it concluded that she had engaged in harassment of co-workers, in violation of the company’s Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy. Matthews sued the retailer, claiming she was fired for expressing her religious beliefs.
The ruling stated, “If Matthews is arguing that Walmart must permit her to admonish gays at work to accommodate her religion, the claim fails.”
Walmart fired Matthews “because she violated company policy when she harassed a co-worker, not because of her beliefs,” the court found.