Skip to comments.Grocery Store Owner Ordered to Pay Unemployment Benefits Over ‘Unacceptable’ Biblical Counseling
Posted on 11/18/2013 2:59:38 AM PST by daniel1212
Grocery Store Owner Ordered to Pay Unemployment Benefits Over Unacceptable Biblical Counseling
TABOR, IA A grocery store owner in Iowa has been ordered to pay unemployment benefits to a former employee who quit her job after she was questioned about her personal lifestyle and exhorted to read the Bible.
Tyler Stille owns Tabor Market and Deli and is known for his strong Christian beliefs. He told reporters this week that he is up front with prospective employees about his faith before they are hired.
We have a Christian fish symbol on our sign, Stille explained. Before we hire anybody, we tell them our faith. We play Christian music in our store all the time, and we always make sure thats OK with them because thats a part of our life.
In September 2011, he hired Sherri Chafin, who is not a Christian, but said she didnt have an issue with Stilles Biblical beliefsuntil those beliefs intersected with her personal life.
Chafin, who now works at a sexually-oriented shop, told the Des Moines Register this week that she quit her job months later after being questioned about her living arrangement and exhorted to read the Scriptures. She then filed for unemployment.
[Stille] told me that I should read one Psalm, or one chapter, per day, something like that, she testified at her unemployment hearing. He asked me if I was receiving food stamps, or any welfare, or anything like that. He told me that if I was, it was unjust because I worked and I lived with my roommatewho is my boyfriend and were not married.
I was crying, she said. He was very intimidating.
But Stille told the court that wasnt what happened. He said that Chafin had made an inappropriate comment to a customer, and so he asked his wife to bring him his Bible as he wanted to read Chafin a few Proverbs. Stille stated that Chafin became belligerent and began crying hysterically, so he walked out of the room when communication became useless.
We had talked Bible-talk for quite some time [in the past] and, in fact, Sherri, in December, had given us a very beautiful religious card thanking us not only for employment and everything we had talked about and what have you, he told the court. So I guess I am a little dumbfounded that all of a sudden she has an issue with Christianity.
At the end of the hearing, Administrative Judge Julie Elder sided with Chafin, stating that Stille was wrong for imposing his beliefs on Chafin and ordered him to pay unemployment.
He effectively held her hostage in his office and lectured her regarding his religious and moral beliefs and her alleged shortcomings in his eyes, Elder ruled, calling Stilles actions inappropriate, unacceptable and unprofessional.
Stille said that the decision was troublesome and that he didnt believe the government had the right to tell him how to run his grocery store as a Christian business owner.
Its just a lot of baloney and its more of government getting involved where it shouldnt, he told the Des Moines Register. Im just really frustrated with the whole mess.
Could she get unemployment pay if she was just fired for her disparaging remark?
Could an employee at a health food store who lives on junk food put down its products or management and expect to keep her job, but get unemployment pay if he/she quit after the owner read him/her some things about healthy living and recommended she read more, in reproof of his/her junk food diet?
So why should the government get involved in any of this?
The Bible is offensive to nonbelievers.
Gays are a threat to mankind, and these judges need to grow up.
In my dealings with unemployment, it is extremely difficult for an employer to dispute an employment claim, even in some cases where the employee quit.
Just in the last year we had an employee tell her manager that she was unhappy and actively looking for another job and intended to leave as soon as she found another. We tried to work with her, tried to determine what she was unhappy about and see what could be done about it (part of it was the length of her commute and we even offered to let her work a flexible schedule) and then we tried to get her to commit to a date so we could recruit and train her replacement. She refused to do any of this or work with us and wouldnt put anything in writing, although the manager and our HR manager documented all their conversations with her. After several months, we let her go as 1) we couldnt keep letting her string us along and 2) she became increasingly hostile and unproductive. She filed for unemployment and we disputed it but in the end she got it. It wasnt worth our time and effort to dispute it further.
In another case from this year, we had an employee in a job that was going to be eliminated. We offered him another, rather comparable position, one well within his skills set and with no decrease in pay but with a schedule change -1st shift to 2nd shift (and with an added shift differential). He gave us a written resignation letter with a two week notice which he signed and in the letter he stated that while he could work the 2nd shift, he just didnt want to and that he wanted to seek other opportunities. He then filed for unemployment. And guess what? Even though I sent unemployment our offer letter for the change of position and his resignation letter, he still got unemployment.
Sad state of affairs, but it is that the victim-entitlement mentality - first seen with the devil presuming to occupy the place of God, and Eve to also be like Him, is now supported by courts.
Law is words formed to (hopefully) make continuity out of a misguidance.
What I hate about the practical application of evil is the turmoil it generates and uses to make an unbroken circle a convoluted mess that seems pleasing to the senses, but makes no sense ..
Written job descriptions are good and bad. As far as unemployment cases are concerned, if an employee is given a position other than their original job description they can quit and file for unemployment and win.
Bad performance and violation of company safety rules, production expectations and refusal to follow directives are good solid and valid reasons to release employees. However, there should be a record of such actions which should include any good points also. If not, you will be charged with keeping a “Black-Book” on the employee and that can get you into deep poo-poo.
If there was no written job description and they quit they cannot file for unemployment since there was no specific job description upon employment.
I’m not addressing firings, only the fact that an employee becomes disgruntled and simply quits.
There are many other factors that come into play but they are workplace dangers, illegal procedures....etc. that can get an employer into “hot water” with both the legal system and the civil courts.
I live (and own a 35 year old business in Texas) and have never lost an unemployment case due to some employee quitting and then filing for unemployment.
Some states are very liberal in granting unemployment while others (like Texas) use reasonable judgement in doing so.
In the case of this employee, you should have fired her due to her actions...particularly in the decrease of productive work and the hostility she showed toward management.
Yep. We have a winner:
“1) Christians should be able to practice their religion. Which means that Christian business owners should be able to evangelize if they so choose.
2) People should be able to quit any job they want at any time.
So why should the government get involved in any of this?”
Or a whole lot of other things, now that you mention it.
I agree but it ended up being a rather difficult situation to prove. We had to start moving and training some else to do parts of her job in light of and in anticipation of her verbal resignation. She then made the claim this was in retaliation for complaining about her working conditions and that her job description and work not being the one she thought she was hire for (even though she had signed an acknowledgement of the very same) and although we did everything we could reasonably do to mitigate this, i.e. offering her a more flexible work schedule to accommodate her long commute and child care issues, even offering to let her work from home some days. During the unemployment telephone hearing, she completely denied that she had ever told us of her intentions to quit after finding another job, claimed that she had never said this and since she had only said this verbally and never put it into writing and strung us along for months, we were pretty much screwed. PA is very liberal in granting unemployment. All the burden falls to the employer and even when you have proof of a termination for cause or a voluntary resignation, more times than not they will rule in favor of the employee.
[Stille] told me that I should read one Psalm, or one chapter, per day, something like that,
I am as Catholic as they come, but I would never demand or even suggest to my employees to read the Bible or some verses. I can’t believe the store owner went there. Thank goodness the store owner only has to pay unemployment. It sounds like she could get a pretty good amount of money for this. She may be being charitable which I guess is good...lol.
I have been made to sit in the office and listen to a litany of all my shortcomings before.
Should I have sued?
I don’t think he did anything wrong, she was free to get up and leave at any time.
I fired a person for cheating on her time sheet (several times) which is in fact theft, and they told me that since that wasn’t part of her job description, she would get unemployment. Huh?
I see some are saying that it is ok to evangelize at the workplace. I am so nervous about supporting this because one day the Muslims are going to want to do this and I don’t want to hear it. Also I was at work when one of those born agains were trying to convert me. It really is uncomfortable even after I told her a hundred times that I am Catholic and leave me alone. Finally I literally had to yell at her to get away from me while everyone turned to see what the fuss was. Unfortunately that is what it took. Thankfully she left me alone after that.
“In my dealings with unemployment, it is extremely difficult for an employer to dispute an employment claim, even in some cases where the employee quit.”
In my experience, not so much... Even if as the employee who quit gets the employer to admit to harassment as the reason said employee quit, you can still lose.
Happened to me in my arbitration.
I busted my butt for a company, got hurt and was dealing with harassment from management and sanctioned by management. This would happen even wile on the phone with the rehab nurse that was assigned to me by work comp.
Head manager admitted to the arbitrator he was doing it and they still sided with the employer.
OK and yes, and I agree with this to a point. But just to be sure we are on the very same page; lets say for a moment that you are hired at a grocery store where the owner is an Atheist and a liberal and he displays a Darwin Fish on the sign of his business. You know he is an Atheist and a liberal but since religion and or lack of religion or politics really has really nothing to do with the day to day activities of this business (its a grocery store and not an Atheist activism org. just as this business was not a church or faith based charity) or with you doing your job of cutting and wrapping meat, the job you were hired to do, and while you may not share or agree with or personally opposed to the owners personal POV, you dont really think it will really impact you much as to the job you are hired to do and you take a live and let live attitude toward him and you are just happy to have a job perhaps in a very small town, this is the best or perhaps only job you can find at the time.
The owner also knew you were a devoted and committed Christian when he hired you and evidently had no problem with this either and the owner even often praises you as being a very good and hard working employee as this employer allegedly did. But one day a customer makes a complaint about you, about something inappropriate you said what exactly that was is not known but maybe you said God Bless or Merry Christmas to a customer who then complained to the owner that this was inappropriate.
So instead of taking to you about the actual complaint and or about your actual job performance which the owner has always in the past said was outstanding, or about any written violation of documented store policy, the owner calls you into his office and starts reading you passages from God Is Not Great and The God Delusion, telling you and yelling at you that you really need to read these books and that your real problem is your religious life style and being a Tea Party member. He also tells you that he now has a problem with your religion and with your politics and tells you, like this employer allegedly did, that hes looking through resumes and intends to replace you.
Stille allegedly told Chafin he intended to replace her and would be going through job applications at the store, then ended the meeting. Chafin left the store and never returned.
Of course, this is a her word against his word situation and I take it all with a big grain of salt on both their parts, but lets say for a moment that this actually happened to you as I described above and that you are very upset and that you also take this as being fired and walk out thinking that you were just told not to return.
2) People should be able to quit any job they want at any time.
Yes they should. But in this case there is a question as to whether the employee voluntarily quit or was told they were being fired, not over actual job performance but for not sharing the employers religious or non-religious beliefs even if when she or you were hired, this was not a problem for either of them.
So why should the government get involved in any of this?
All employers have to pay into the unemployment insurance pool and agree to follow the rules when it comes to terminations and as to whether that termination qualifies for an unemployment claim or not. While Ive seen many abuses of unemployment benefits and rulings that grant unemployment benefits to employees that dont deserve them, rulings that I dont agree with, benefits given to people who IMO dont at all deserve them, the burden of proof always falls to the employer to prove that the termination was for cause or that the employee quit without any coercion or for an intolerable work place situation.
FWIW, Ive also experienced the other side of this issue when I was terminated, was told I was being layed off from my payroll/office manager job because of a supposed reduction of force, i.e. a job elimination, that my job and I were no longer needed, but in truth, it was really because the owner wanted to give my job to his very inexperienced and unqualified and recent liberal arts college graduate daughter, and IMO that was his provocative and perfectly within his discretion to do so, but the one and the only time I ever filed for unemployment, this employer then lied and disputed my unemployment claim by saying that I was really terminated because of my poor job performance. I had liked and was very happy at my job and they had been very happy with me and I did a very good job but was suddenly let go and as I shortly found out from some co-workers, it really because the owner wanted to give his daughter my job and what a lousy job she was doing to boot. Again, that was perfectly within his right to do so, but not to then lie to me and to the unemployment commission about why I was actually let go and try to deny my unemployment claim.
I of course had signed copies of all my performance reviews of the years, including the one from just one month prior to my termination that stated what an excellent employee I was in and in all sorts of glowing terms on my excellent performance and with a very recent 6% pay increase. The employer also had no written proof of any written policy violations on my part or any written record of conversation of my alleged poor performance or that my job had actually been eliminated. He tried to claim that the job of Office Manager, my job had been eliminated but when during the unemployment hearing, he was asked to provide the written job description for his daughters job, now titled as Office Administrator, but the job description was exactly identitical to my job description except for a much higher rate of pay, 100% employer provided benefits and 6 weeks of vacation rather than my 50% benefits and 2 weeks of vacation. FWIW, he also tried to dispute my rights to COBRA benefits, trying to say I was fired for gross misconduct although he had no basis for this claim.
Fortunately I had a very strong resume and many solid references including that of my direct manager of this job I was let go from and found a new job rather quickly and only needed and got about 2 weeks of unemployment.
Even in states with at will employment, when an employer hires someone and the employee meets all the terms of and conditions of employment, if they are fired without cause, they still may have a valid claim for unemployment benefits.
In this case, I dont really see where this employer had a solid case for dismissal for cause and for denial of unemployment benefits. FWIW, having a personal disagreement with an employees personal life style choices as long as it has no effect on their actual job performance, while the employer may choose to dismiss them and that may be within their right to do so, it has in reality, no bearing what so ever on whether the employee is eligible for unemployment benefits or not.
How dare your employer hold you "hostage" and imposed his values on you!
Well, your attitude corresponds to RCs not holding Scripture as supreme, and being among the lowest in Bible reading, but what if the employee worked at a prolife clinic, and made a disparaging remark about it to a women considering an abortion, and it turns out she herself favored such (and in fact went on to get a job waiting at Planned Parenthood) after saying she did not object before, so the employer lectured her about abortion, and recommended she read some of the literature itself?
Would she still be being charitable by getting unemployment? Or does this only apply to Bible Christians.
I have an “iron clad” policy.
NEVER, NEVER, NEVER have verbal communication in lieu of a written and signed statement by all concerned on ANY action that may become a legal quagmire or a potential financial “land mine” no matter how small the issue.
You have to realize that as an employer you are actually hiring your own potential lawsuits and you must fully expect that sometime in the future that good, hardworking employee will turn and “bite your hand” in trade for easy money through suing you at the first opportunity.
50 years ago it was a rare thing. With the complete destruction of morals of today’s society, it’s simply another thing to do......kind of like winning the lottery.
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