Christian woman awarded $21.5 million after lawsuit claims she was fired for skipping Sunday shifts to go to church
A devout Christian who put God before her job has won a $21.5 million verdict after her employer fired her for not showing up at work for six Sunday shifts.
Marie Jean Pierre, who worked as a dishwasher at a hotel for a decade, spent her Sundays at her church. According to Pierre, her employer was aware that she could not work on Sundays at the time of her hiring, but her schedule began to change in 2015.
While she was initially able to switch shifts with co-workers, Pierre balked when Colon finally demanded that she herself report for work on Sundays. Her refusal resulted in her termination in March 2016.
“I love God,” she told NBC 6 Miami. “No work on Sunday, because Sunday I honor God.”
The jury agreed, the substantial sum they awarded her — $21 million in damages, plus $35,000 in back wages and $500,000 for emotional pain and mental anguish — is mostly symbolic. Due to caps on punitive damages in federal court, Pierre will only receive around $500,000. Still, she and her attorney both insist that her case was about religious freedom, not money.
“This was not about money,” Bruner told NBC 6. “This was about sending a message to other corporations whether big or small. Whatever size you are, if you’re going to take the blood and sweat of your workers, you better accommodate them or let them at least believe in their religious beliefs. Not a preference but a belief.”