Washington, DC (October 22, 2002) – In response to religious discrimination charges brought by Ohio teacher Dennis Robey, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ordered the National Education Association (NEA) and its local affiliates to stop subjecting teachers annually to a burdensome and invasive process before respecting their religious objections to union affiliation.
With the help of National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, Robey brought charges against the NEA and its local affiliates after they refused to honor his longstanding religious objection to supporting the union because it promotes pro-abortion, pro-homosexuality positions, and constantly attempts to interfere with parental rights. The EEOC had announced earlier this year that the union policy violates federal law.
“For years the NEA union has used this particular illegal scheme to intimidate and harass teachers of faith who dare to challenge their radical agenda,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “The EEOC’s finding of a violation further underscores that the nation’s largest teacher union has systematically persecuted people of faith.”
Robey began to make his religious objections known in 1995. During the 1999-2000 school year, union officials rebuffed his longstanding objection and demanded that every year he must describe, in detail, his deeply held religious views, fill out a lengthy and invasive form, and file it with the union. On the form, union officials asked probing personal questions about his relationship with God, his “religious affiliation,” and required him to obtain a signature from a “religious official” attesting to the validity of his beliefs.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, union officials must attempt to accommodate an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs if they conflict with financially supporting a union. To accommodate the conflict between an employee’s faith and a requirement to pay fees to a union he believes to be immoral, the law allows employees instead to donate that money to charity.
The EEOC agreed with Foundation attorneys’ arguments that the nationwide union policy unlawfully places an undue burden on teachers, and that teachers need only file a one-time objection to paying forced union dues.
Although the union has agreed to cease this particular method of harassment, numerous other cases are still pending against the NEA union hierarchy for other harassment of religious objectors.
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.