Christian Man Wins Discrimination Suit Against AT&T

( [email protected] ) Apr 06, 2004 02:35 PM EDT

DENVER -- A Christian from Denver was awarded $146,269 for standing up for Christian values as he won the legal battle against AT&T Broadband, where he was fired for refusing to sign the agreement three years ago.

AT&T Broadband, after bought by Comcast Corp., required their employees to sign the agreement which says to “value” the behavior and beliefs of others, including homosexuals, which Buonanno saw it as violating his own Christian beliefs.

Immediately Albert A. Buonanno, 47, sued AT&T Broadband Buonanno for violating Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which protects employees from discrimination based on race, sex, religious beliefs, national ancestry or color.

Buonanno said he could tolerate other beliefs that are against Christian values but not value them.

"As a Christian, I love and appreciate all people regardless of their lifestyle," Buonanno said Monday. "But I cannot value homosexuality and any different religious beliefs. That was one of my concerns."

Buonanno added, "I think AT&T should be able to expect certain behavior from people but not force their beliefs on people."

The Rutherford Institute, a Charlottesville, Va.-based nonprofit Christian civil liberties group that filed the lawsuit on behalf of Buonanno, called the issue "more than an objection to homosexuality."

“It concerns the freedom of conscience—the right of individuals to object to something they believe is wrong, especially when it contradicts their religious beliefs, whether it is war, abortion, homosexuality or a number of other issues. Employees shouldn't be forced to forswear their religious values in the name of tolerance, ” stated John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “This was just one case among many in which employees continue to be wrongfully denied accommodation and the right to freedom of conscience because of their religious beliefs—rights guaranteed both under federal law and under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

Judge Marcia Krieger ruled in favor of Buonanno on Friday and awarded him payment from AT&T Broadband for his lost wages, lost 401(k) contributions, emotional distress and interest.

"The court accepts AT&T's contention that allowing employees to strike piecemeal portions of the handbook of certification could pose an undue hardship on its business, making the uniform application of company policies much more difficult," Krieger wrote.

"Nevertheless, had AT&T gathered more information about Buonanno's concerns before terminating his employment, it may have discovered that ... it was possible to relieve that conflict with a reasonable accommodation."