A federal appellate court this week ruled against a New York man who was fired for refusing to attend his company’s pro-LGBT training session.
Raymond Zdunski of Ashville alleged in his suit that the Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) violated his First Amendment rights.
Raymond Zdunski, now an office administrator for a tree service company, said losing his BOCES job for refusing to attend the training session amounted to "unlawful religious discrimination." https://t.co/awo4b2JXnQ
— The Buffalo News (@TheBuffaloNews) March 14, 2023
He charged he was subjected to his employer attempting to alter his religious beliefs about gender-related issues through a diversity training session. Zdunski requested a religious exemption on the basis of his Christian beliefs.
That request was denied.
Zdunski asked the court for $10 million in damages along with reinstatement and back pay. However, District Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford dismissed the original case last year. On Monday, the Manhattan-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed that decision.
BOCES argued in both courts that Zdunski was terminated for his steadfast refusal to complete the mandatory training program. The company claimed the sessions were meant to create a safe work environment for staff and students.
After the latest ruling, management released a statement asserting that “we agree with the decisions of both the United States District Court and the Court of Appeals.”
Zdunski disagreed. The plaintiff declared, “It just seems like the country is against the Christian way of life, and it’s for everything else. We’re not allowed to practice our way of life but anyone else can, it seems.”
In an apparent play on words, BOCES district superintendent David O’Rourke disputed Zdunski’s position. He asserted that the former employee was shown the door not because of religion, but because he refused the mandatory training.
And the refusal was on religious grounds.
Zdunski’s outraged lawyer, Kristina S. Heuser, proclaimed her client’s rights were trampled “for no other reason than his refusal to be indoctrinated with anti-biblical teaching.”
She also promised that recourse will be sought with the U.S. Supreme Court.
Freedom of religion is exactly that, the freedom to live out your beliefs as long as they do not cause harm to others. Zdunski declining to participate in a mandatory training session that merely served as a cover for indoctrination falls squarely into that category of legal protections.