Maine Atheist Claims Discrimination At Workplace

frustrated man

An atheist from Maine is filing a lawsuit against his former employer on grounds of religious discrimination, saying his supervisor at Olympia Sports forced him to go to church and adhere to Christianity. Jason Rines filed his suit at Androscoggin County Superior Court on June 20th, substantiating his claim with his former supervisor Lori Brooks’ fundamentalist ideologies and blaming her for having to quit his job at the sporting goods store in Lewiston.

Brooks started working at the store as a supervising manager in October 2012. After Rines joined the store, Brooks allegedly started interjecting her beliefs into conversations with him during work hours. She made it clear to Rines that she is a devout Christian and her religion plays a pivotal role in her life. When Rines told her he is an atheist, Brooks allegedly started to mount pressure on him by hiring fellow churchgoers and making the professional workspace rather uncomfortable for Rines.

The situation reached its tipping point when money from Brooks’ purse went missing and despite Rines saying that he had not taken it, Brooks reportedly told co-workers that Rines was the thief. Following this incident, Brooks’ pastor visited the store during Christmas and handed a Christian CD along with a book written by a “former atheist” to Rines.

According to Rines, these incidents amount to religious discrimination under Maine’s Human Rights Commission and his plaintiff is seeking not only lost wages but also punitive and compensatory damages for the alleged discrimination. The lawyer representing Olympia Sports was not available for comments.

This recent incident comes after four secular organizations in America came together in May 2014 to form a coalition Openly Secular, which promotes atheism and secularism in an attempt to end discrimination against non-believers.

“Our mission is to eliminate discrimination and increase acceptance by getting atheists, freethinkers, agnostics, humanists and all nonreligious people to be open about their beliefs… By being open about our beliefs and values, we can show that we, like all people, are worthy of love and kindness undeterred by religious differences,” said Todd Stiefel, chair for the Openly Secular coalition.

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