Remember how I blogged a while back about the Salvation Amy getting federal dollars — 95% of it’s budget, in fact — and the right to practice discrimination while doing it? Well, it’ looks like their discrimination dispensation is getting put to the test. They’re being sued. And by a jewish gay man, no less.
State Supreme Court Justice Richard F. Braun denied the Salvation Army’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by caseworker Zachary Logan. The Army’s lawyers argued that because theirs is a religious organization, it is exempt from religious bias claims.
Braun disagreed. He said the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest, has ruled that “religious organizations, just like other employers, may not discriminate unlawfully against their employees.”
The judge said Logan complained that Michelle Pallak, his supervisor, “acted hostilely toward him because of his sexual orientation and religious background. She undermined him in his job performance and treated him differently than she did heterosexual employees.”
Logan, who lives in Astoria, Queens, also says in court papers that Pallak called him offensive names related to his sexual orientation and remarked to colleagues after he was fired that she hoped he “did not play the gay card.”
“If the allegations made by plaintiff are true, he should be compensated for defendant’s bad acts,” the judge wrote. “This action will go forward.”
The judge went on to say that allowing religious organizations to promote their religious principles and give employment preferences to people with the same religion is a “far cry” from the treatment alleged by Zachary Logan — who worked as a counselor for survivors of the World Trade Center attack.
So, it looks like Logan will get his day in court and the opportunity to prove his allegations. If they are proven and the Salvation Army has to pay the price for unlawful discrimination, it’ll be step in the right direction (no pun intended) and underscore one of the major pitfalls in Bush’s ill-advised “faith-based initiative.”
I just wonder, if organizations like the Salvation Army learn that they can’t be on the federal dole and practice unlawful discrimination, will they still take government funding? Maybe, maybe not. But it will at least make clear that there are some strings attacks to those government checks going into the offering plate.