This week, Liberty Institute filed an official charge of discrimination with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of former Newton Daily News editor-in-chief, Bob Eschliman.
Eschliman, who worked for the newspaper in Newton, Iowa since 2012, was fired after posting his religious views on his private blog—which he had maintained prior to his employment at the Newton Daily News, and where he frequently shared his personal thoughts and writings in his off hours.
“Once I began to work at Newton Daily News,” Eschliman explains in his statement in support of his charge of discrimination, “I made them aware and was never asked to stop my private efforts there.”
UNLAWFUL AND OUTRAGEOUS RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE
Says Liberty Institute’s volunteer attorney, Matthew Whitaker—a former United States Attorney and partner in the Des Moines law firm of Whitaker, Hagenow, & Gustoff, LLP—“No one should be fired for simply expressing his religious beliefs. In America, it is against the law to fire an employee for expressing a religious belief in public. This kind of religious intolerance by an employer has no place in today’s welcoming workforce.”
At issue are Eschliman’s views he expressed on his private blog this past spring, defending his religious beliefs regarding Holy Scripture and the institution of marriage.
When the Newton Daily News’ management—Shaw Media—learned of Eschliman’s blog post a few days later, they placed him on indefinite paid suspension while investigating the matter. On May 5, 2014, Eschliman was summarily fired and immediately escorted out of the building—without being permitted to gather his personal effects from his office. The president of Shaw Media, the owner of Newton Daily News, issued a statement in an editorial published that same day ironically titled “Earning public trust our priority”:
“While Mr. Eschliman is entitled to his opinion, his public airing of it compromised the reputation of this newspaper and his ability to lead it. Mr. Eschliman has a right to voice his opinion. And we have a right to select an editor who we believe best represents our company and best serves the interests of our readers.”
“There is no question that I was fired for holding and talking about my sincerely held religious beliefs on my personal blog during my off-duty time from the comfort of my own home.
“Shaw Media directly discriminated against me because of my religious beliefs and my identity as an evangelical Christian who believes in Holy Scripture and the Biblical view of marriage.”
With the filing of Eschliman’s official charge of discrimination, the EEOC will begin an independent investigation of the former newspaper editor’s charges of religious discrimination and retaliation. If the EEOC determines that Shaw Media is guilty of religious discrimination and retaliation, it may order broad relief, including back pay, front pay, and other significant damages for the unlawful conduct of Eschliman’s former employer.
FIGHTING FOR EMPLOYEES OF FAITH
Liberty Institute has stood and will continue to stand with clients being persecuted and their livelihoods threatened because of their personal beliefs and faith. Recent clients include:
There’s a reason The Wall Street Journal has cited Liberty Institute in its coverage on religious discrimination in the workplace. And we’ll continue this fight to help those being persecuted in the workplace for their faith.
NOT JUST FIGHTING, BUT WINNING
The battle to defend religious liberty in companies and organizations rages on, but we know we can win with the support of friends like you. When you stand with us and help fight back, you help achieve victories in the workplace—defending the freedom of religious expression for fellow Americans including Bob Eschliman, Walt Tutka, SMSgt Phillip Monk, and Craig James.
Your support helps continue Liberty Institute’s unique strategy which includes:
Please donate nowto help continue the fight and protect the “free exercise” of religion in our nation—and if you or someone you know is experiencing workplace religious discrimination, please contact us today!
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About Liberty Institute
Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches, in the military and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit www.LibertyInstitute.org.