Skip to comments.Allstate sued for religious discrimination (Conservative web writer fired over anti-Gay article)
Posted on 07/21/2005 8:10:45 PM PDT by Land_of_Lincoln_John
A former employee has sued Northbrook-based Allstate Insurance Company for discrimination, maintaining he was fired for writing an Internet-published essay that slams same-sex marriage and homosexual lifestyles.
J. Matt Barber, 35, of Villa Park, said last week his Christian faith led him to write the essay in December 2004, on his own time and at home. His federal lawsuit alleges Allstate officials told him the following month that he was being suspended for writing the piece. He was fired three days later.
Barber's lawsuit claims his dismissal violates his constitutional right to free exercise of religion and seeks an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages.
"If a secular employer can fire you for what you believe, a lot of citizens better worry about what their employers can do to them," Barber's attorney, Matthew Davis, said Monday.
Davis works for the Gibbs Law Firm of Seminole, Fla., which specializes in religious rights cases. The firm represented Bob and Mary Schindler, parents of Terri Schiavo, who unsuccessfully sought a court order to prolong her life this year, after a judge ruled she was in a persistent vegetative state and her spouse could order her feeding tube removed.
May 26 complaint
Davis filed Barber's lawsuit May 26, but Allstate wasn't served until July 1. The firm's attorneys have yet to respond to the complaint.
Allstate spokesman Mike Trevino said Monday he couldn't comment on the case, but added, "Allstate would not terminate an employee for expressing personal religious views on his or her own time. I can tell you that any allegation suggesting otherwise is false."
Barber's essay maintains most Americans oppose same-sex marriage, and notes the Canadian Parliament was then pondering legalizing it. The measure passed that Parliament June 28.
"If you pass it, they will come -- that is, along with all the Blue-State fringe lefties despondent over our recent presidential election, expect to see droves of American "same-sex couples" crossing the border in search of their own little slice of 'progressive' utopia," Barber wrote.
The essay also expresses Barber's doubts that homosexuality is a trait present at birth. He said he believes it is probably a lifestyle choice, a learned behavior that can be unlearned with the help of what he called "homosexual recovery organizations." His essay states that "any time anyone dare expose the aforementioned truths about the homosexual lifestyle, or criticize the homosexual lobby for its radical anti-marriage, anti-family agenda, there's an enormous backlash."
Barber's discrimination lawsuit has brought a Web backlash against Allstate, company officials confirmed this week. After the lawsuit's existence was revealed late last month on conservative Web sites, some -- including that of Donald E. Wildmon's powerful American Family Association -- encouraged fans to send e-mails of protest to Allstate, and of support to Barber.
Barber said last Thursday he's received more than 1,000 e-mails, and most support his view.
A non-practicing lawyer and former professional boxer who fought under the name "Bam Bam Barber," he said last Thursday he went to work in corporate security at Allstate five years ago, and was promoted in 2003 to corporate security manager.
Barber said he began writing conservative essays in October 2004. "I felt prompted by prayer to write the article," he said.
But he claimed Allstate seemed to be looking for an excuse to dismiss him before that essay appeared on the Web, because of a conflict with an executive.
Barber said his troubles at Allstate started in the summer of 2003. While providing security on an employee-incentive trip to Lisbon, Portugal, he said he saw an assistant vice president acting inappropriately with a female worker hired for the trip.
Barber said he reported the incident to his supervisor but the executive escaped discipline, and became verbally abusive to Barber.
He filed an official harassment complaint against the executive Sept. 16, 2004, that, according to his lawsuit, has yet to be resolved.
The following day, according to his lawsuit, he was given an unacceptable evaluation by his manager, which he rebutted in writing.
Barber's lawsuit states he accepted a new job in the Distribution Support Division at Allstate, with lower status and pay, in October 2004.
That same month, he began writing articles published in various print and Internet publications of a Christian or politically conservative nature, he said.
According to the lawsuit, his new supervisors knew about his off-work writing activities, and neither had "expressed any misgivings or potential disciplinary problems with Mr. Barber's off-work writing activities."
Nevertheless, the lawsuit alleges he was told Jan. 31 that he was being suspended from his job for writing the essay expressing his views on homosexuals and same-sex marriage.
"They slapped down a copy of the article I had written," he said last week. "I was told that 'here at Allstate we have a very diverse community,' those exact words, 'and you know that Allstate does not hold your position."
He said he was escorted from the building, and fired three days later.
Barber said he remains unemployed.
"Intolerance Will Not be Tolerated: The Gay Agenda vs. Family Values," is one of 10 Barber essays carried on mensnewsdaily.com, a conservative Web site. Barber said he never identified himself in biographies attached to his writings as an Allstate employee.
But a boxing Web site contains a 2003 biography of Barber that notes he writes for conservative publications, works for Allstate, and "is a staunch Republican whose long-term goal is to run for Senate or Congress."
Barber maintains Allstate is biased against born-again Christians like him who believe homosexuality is sinful. He said the bias is revealed by Northbrook campus seminars that mandate acceptance of gay lifestyles, and by the Allstate Foundation's support of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and other organizations he calls pro-homosexual.
"There are three different platforms on which the Foundation screens or evaluates requests for grants" to community organizations, Trevino retorted Monday. They are "tolerance, inclusion and diversity.
"We recognize there is a critical link between crime-free communities and tolerance. And Allstate believes personal safety and security can be achieved when individuals feel a sense of belonging."
"That's Allstate's Stand"
I can't wait for them to call me again about insurance.
Matt Barber is going to collect many pretty pennies from Allstate.
In a free country, AllState should be able to fire him for ANY reason and we would be free to NEVER buy AllState insurance again.
I'm shopping for a new Insurance company!!
How intolerant of Allstate to fire this man for expressing his views....
Now I've got another reason to stick it to them.
Gee, my Allstate auto insurance went up over 100% last year, I didn't even have one ticket or accident with them... it seems they see prejudice over zipcodes (apparently my zipcode has too much melanim for them), even though they hired the really sexy black actor from '24' to be their spokesperson.
I am now with Geico, and happy. I had an accident and they didn't raise my insurance rate.
My take on this: Buy puts on Allstate. Dog/loser.
If the laws regarding discrimination in the work place are fair, this guy should win.
According to the facts of the case - he wrote the article on his own time, did not present his views as the views of his employer, and did not bring his views to the work place. Now what will the defense have to say?
So they punished him for his heterosexual choice, utilizing his free speech, and also invaded in his privacy? What did this guy do wrong? There's no such thing as a "thought" police.
I hope Allstate gets sued a bundle, and they lose thousands of customers for their homo loving attitude.
I hope this guy wins millions.
Being pro-heterosexual is the new fad. Queerdom is an old 90's thing. Allstate is way behind the times here. They screwed up because of their ignorance.
I worked for Geico and one of the best in the country but now I have my own Allstate insurance Agency. Allstate takes care of clients and agents. Geico did not.
Yes I am. A true coconut and what I meant to say was right winger. My mouse gets on inserting letters and deleting before I finish.
cool your engines.. I am an agent I am proud to be and agent. They gave me an opportunity that no other company will.
Well then, I'm Samoan too. Village of Vaitogi in AS. Hawaii now.
Why should I "COOL MY ENGINES" because you are an agent!! Why don't you kick in your afterburner and change companies!!