A government agency needs to learn from biblical history, as well as religious freedom laws in this country, that its actions against an employee won't prevail.
An Orthodox Jewish woman is suing her employer, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, for taking action that violates her religious freedom. Susan Abeles had worked for the Authority, which governs Dulles and Reagan airports, for 26 years and had always been allowed time off for Passover. But not this past Passover, according to Becket Fund deputy general counsel Eric Rassbach.
“For some reason,” he explains, “one of her supervisors decided to say Well, you did not notify us in exactly the right fashion. You told your immediate supervisor instead of the supervisor above your immediate supervisor that you were going to be gone, and therefore we're going to penalize you for that.”
Federal law requires a compelling reason to violate religious freedom.
Essentially, says the Becket Fund, Abeles was forced out of her job even though she had followed the procedure previously accepted and had issued several reminders. Nevertheless, a federal court somehow found favor for the government agency, which had said it didn't have to follow federal or state religious freedom laws. That sends the case to the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Rassbach says he finds it "surprising" that the government would decide to penalize someone for celebrating Passover.
“You know, that didn't work out so well for Pharaoh [in the Old Testament], so this government should take note of that," he suggests.