Cleveland, Ohio (November 25, 2002) — Facing religious discrimination charges and embarrassing national media exposure, Ohio Education Association (OEA) union officials begrudgingly have agreed to honor the right of a Ravenna City Schools psychologist to have her union dues re-directed to charity because the union’s social advocacy violates her religious convictions.
With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, Kathleen Klamut filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against the OEA, and its local affiliate, for refusing to accommodate her religious objections to supporting the union.
A practicing Christian, Klamut objects to having her money subsidize the union’s pro-abortion agenda. Last Fall, when she began working as a school psychologist in the Ravenna City Schools, Klamut asked to have her dues re-directed to charity – her right under the law. OEA officials refused to accommodate her, and Klamut was told the union hierarchy was planning to take legal action against her.
“No one should be forced to support an agenda they find morally objectionable,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “For the past five years, Kathleen Klamut has faced tremendous adversity simply because she wanted to do what she loves without compromising her faith.”
In 1997, while working for the Louisville School System, Klamut fought to get the OEA union and its Louisville local to recognize her religious objection. They ordered Klamut to send her money to a union-controlled organization (Carpenter/Garcia Fund) or they would refuse to honor her status as a religious objector. After a two-year struggle, Klamut was able to have her compulsory dues diverted to the American Cancer Society. However, the struggle began again when she moved to the Ravenna City Schools.
“Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Union bosses around the country try to force people of faith to support their radical social agenda,” stated Gleason.
Earlier this year, the EEOC found that the National Education Association (NEA) and OEA unions have systematically discriminated against religious objectors. Another Ohio teacher, Dennis Robey, brought charges against the NEA and its state and local affiliates after they refused to honor his religious objection to supporting the union because it promotes pro-abortion and pro-homosexuality positions.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, union officials may not force any employee to support financially a union if doing so violates the employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs. To avoid the conflict between an employee’s faith and a requirement to pay fees to a union he or she believes to be immoral, the law requires union officials to attempt to accommodate the employee – usually by designating a mutually acceptable charity to accept the funds.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.