Oxnard, Calif. (October 16, 2002) – In response to charges filed by Lynn Laird, a local psychologist, officials with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 998 must recognize Laird’s status as a religious objector and divert her forced union fees to a mutually agreed upon charity. With the help of attorneys with the National Right to Work Foundation, Laird filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after the SEIU union hierarchy initially refused to accommodate Laird’s sincere religious beliefs. “No one should be forced to support a union and agenda that they find morally offensive,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This is a fight to protect people of faith from being harassed by union bosses.” In January 2001, Laird learned that the SEIU and its affiliates were advocating public funding for abortion, and notified union officials of her intention to assert her right as a religious objector under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Under the law, union officials must attempt to accommodate sincere religious objectors by allowing employees to make charitable contributions in lieu of paying the mandatory union fees. Rather than comply with the law, SEIU officials diverted Laird’s would-be dues to a charity whose record of animal testing also violated her sincere Christian beliefs. Once the Ventura County Humane Society was decided upon as a mutually agreed upon charity, union officials refused to pay fees to the charity retroactively to cover the period during which the complaint was processed. The union also refused to assume the cost of any future grievances Laird files, even though she is paying an amount equal to union fees to charity. “Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Teachers across the country, regardless of their faith, are being shaken down to pay for this radical agenda,” said Gleason. “Without the protections of a Right to Work law, Californians will continue to suffer discrimination as a result of forced unionism.”