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Employee fired for saying the Pride flag is an “abomination” sues for religious discrimination

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The rainbow Pride flag Photo: Shutterstock

A former employee of an Iowa manufacturing plant owned by Arconic Inc. is suing, saying that getting fired for telling his coworkers that the rainbow flag is an “abomination” is discrimination against his “sincerely held Christian beliefs.”

To hear Daniel Snyder, 63, tell it, it was partly an accident that he spewed hateful rhetoric in front of his coworkers. He said that he was sent a link to an “engagement survey” by the company president and that the accompanying email said that the survey was anonymous.

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Snyder said that he clicked on the wrong link in the email and was sent to a webpage that had a rainbow flag and the words “Gay Pride Month.” He said he thought that that was the anonymous survey and that a text field on the website is where he was supposed to give feedback on the idea of “Gay Pride Month.”

“It’s an abomination to God. Rainbow is not meant to be displayed as a sign for sexual gender,” he wrote.

It turned out that that wasn’t a survey at all, it was the company’s message board. At least one of Snyder’s coworkers complained about his statement, and he was suspended for violating the company’s diversity policy.

Snyder said that he told Arconic’s leadership that his statements were based on his “sincerely held Christian beliefs.” He also says that he tried to explain that he thought he was responding to the anonymous survey, and that the higher-ups laughed at him derisively.

He was later fired.

In his lawsuit, Snyder says he “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.”

Snyder says in the lawsuit that Arconic is actually the intolerant one here for not accepting his intolerance because their diversity policy “actually punishes diversity of opinion, allowing only one opinion — the company’s approved narrative on morally freighted issues — while treating any employee’s religious opinion or objection to the contrary, even if intended to be anonymous and expressed in a single instance, as grounds for immediate termination with no accommodation whatsoever. The ‘zero tolerance diversity policy’ is, in fact, an intolerance policy designed to expel from Arconic’s workforce anyone who dissents for religious reasons from its corporate moral views.”

Prior to the incident, Snyder had asked for a religious accommodation from Arconic: he wanted Sundays off so he could preach at a church. He was granted that accommodation. In the lawsuit, he threw Arconic’s accommodation back at them, claiming that it was proof that they knew about his religious beliefs.

The Thomas More Society, a conservative Christian legal organization, is representing Snyder. they say that Arconic’s diversity policy violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Iowa state law because of religious discrimination.

“His brief comment, in attempting to respond to a company web survey, was explicitly and facially religious,” Thomas More Society lawyer Michael McHale said. “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.”

LGBTQ advocates disagree, saying Snyder was not required by anyone to post his beliefs on the company forum.

“Mr. Snyder had the opportunity to hold on to his hurtful and bigoted beliefs while also working for the Arconic corporation,” Adam Peters of the LGBTQ organization Clock, Inc. told the Quad City Times. “Mr. Snyder chose to violate Arconic’s Diversity Policy which clearly states ‘We have zero tolerance for discrimination, intimidation, harassment, or retaliation of any kind.’ Mr. Snyder was suspended and terminated because of this. Plain and simple. Thoughts and prayers to him and his case.”

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