A Win For Religious Accommodation

Liberty Alerts, American Center for Law and Justice

It’s a case that began last year.  We represent Edwin A. Graning, who was employed as a bus driver for the Capital Area Rural Transportation System (CARTS), which provides transportation services to nine counties in Texas.  Graning’s primary duty at CARTS was to drive passengers to medical facilities.

This past January, Graning was assigned to pick up a client early in the morning and transport her to Planned Parenthood in Austin.  Graning, an ordained Christian minister, was concerned that he might be transporting the client to undergo an abortion at the Planned Parenthood clinic.  So before picking up the client, he called his supervisor and told her that, based on his religious beliefs, he could not take someone to have an abortion.

The supervisor responded by saying, “then you are resigning.”  Graning replied that he was not resigning; rather, that he “could not be a part of this.”

Graning then received a call from a dispatcher.  After telling the dispatcher that he could not conscientiously drive the passenger to Planned Parenthood, she instructed Graning to return the bus to the yard.

Graning was then fired.

Rather than accommodate Graning’s religious beliefs and give the transportation assignment to another driver, CARTS fired Graning on the spot for refusing the assignment.

We filed a federal lawsuit on his behalf in July 2010 in U.S. District Court in Austin, Texas.

In our complaint, which you can view here, we alleged that firing Graning without even attempting to accommodate his religious beliefs was a violation of his rights under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

I am now pleased to report that there has been a successful resolution in this matter.

After a period of legal discovery, CARTS has agreed to pay Graning an amount which we believe fairly compensates the financial losses Graning suffered as a result of being fired.

This is not just a great resolution to Graning’s case, it’s an important victory for the rights of conscience everywhere.

It sends the clear and unequivocal message that pro-life employees cannot be discriminated against based on their religious beliefs.

It also reminds employers that they cannot ignore or dismiss requests for religious accommodation by their employees.

Used with the permission of the American Center for Law and Justice.