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Union to pay Catholic employee $10K in religious discrimination settlement

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A Catholic hospital employee who alleged that forced union due payments by her employer constituted religious discrimination will be awarded $10,000 and sent an apology letter as part of a legal settlement. 

Dorothy Frame, who formerly worked at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital in Fort Campbell, Tennessee, settled last week after filing a lawsuit claiming that local officials with the Laborers International Union of North America engaged in religious discrimination against her.

Due to her Catholic beliefs against abortion, Frame didn’t want to pay dues to a union that supports pro-abortion political organizations or causes. 

The settlement requires 500,000-member LIUNA to pay Frame $10,000 and send her an apology letter for forcing her to pay union dues. 

The National Right to Work Foundation, which describes itself as a “nonprofit, charitable organization” working to “eliminate coercive union power and compulsory unionism abuses through strategic litigation, public information, and education programs,” provided Frame with free legal representation in her litigation.

“I knew in my heart and soul that I was right,” Frame said in a statement shared via the National Right to Work Foundation. “This is one of the greatest things that I’ve ever done in my life. It was hard; it was so hard.”

The foundation’s president, Mark Mix, said that Frame was “targeted with years of bullying and discrimination by LIUNA officials.”

“Ms. Frame refused to forsake her religious beliefs and stood firm for her rights,” Mix proclaimed. “She has now prevailed decisively against LIUNA’s illegal attempt to force her to choose between remaining true to her beliefs and staying employed.”

“Big Labor’s government-granted privilege to force rank-and-file workers to support their activities creates a breeding ground for such malfeasance and anti-worker abuse,” Mix continued. “No American worker should have to pay tribute to a union they oppose just to keep their job, whether their objections are religious or otherwise.”

The federal lawsuit against union officials was the latest step in Frame’s effort to obtain a religious exemption from having to pay union dues, which dates back more than two years.

According to the lawsuit filed in November, Frame “sent a letter informing [LIUNA] of the conflict between her religious beliefs and the requirement that she join or pay the Union.” She requested religious accommodation from the requirement.

Specifically, the July 2019 letter noted that Frame “believes joining or financially supporting the Unions would make her complicit in that sin [of abortion] because she believes that the Unions support and promote abortion.”

Due to her Catholic beliefs, “Ms. Frame believes that abortion is a grave sin.”

“Thus, she believes that any money the Unions collect from her makes her complicit in sin and violates her religious beliefs,” the letter added.

The lawsuit claims a LIUNA lawyer responded to Frame’s request for religious accommodation by demanding that she “prove that her beliefs ‘[]meet the standard for a ‘legitimate justification.’” The complaint further notes that a union lawyer characterized “Ms. Frame’s understanding of her faith” as “inferior to his own understanding of her faith” and sent “Ms. Frame — and her priest — remedial church readings.”

While Frame filed a discrimination charge against LIUNA with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in December 2019, her first attempt at resolving the situation through litigation failed to achieve the desired results because union officials still declined to accommodate her religious beliefs and continued to “refuse to return any money they collected from Ms. Frame.”

Frame then filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.

In the lawsuit, Frame asked the court to declare that “she has the right to a religious accommodation that alleviates her obligation to join or support the Unions” and return all the money the union took out of her paycheck. She also sought “damages for emotional pain, suffering, and mental anguish that she suffered because the Unions repeatedly challenged and disparaged her religious beliefs.”

“It crushed me; it hurt me so deeply,” Frame said. “Not just for them to say that to me, but to tell my priest that.”

She concluded that her experience made her more “determined.”

According to the National Right to Work Foundation, Tennessee has a Right to Work law that ensures “private sector workers in the state cannot be compelled to pay dues as a condition of employment.”

However, Fort Campbell is a “federal enclave” and not subject to state law. 

Frame’s former employer, J & J Worldwide Service, maintains a union contract with LIUNA that forces employees to pay union dues.

According to The Washington Free Beacon, LIUNA is an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, which has allied with the nation’s largest abortion provider Planned Parenthood for political causes in the past. Additionally, LINUA has donated millions to Democrat-affiliated political action committees in recent years.

In the 2020 election cycle, the LIUNA donated $7 million to the Democratic Senate Majority PAC.

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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