EEOC Threatens Union With Prosecution

In response to religious discrimination charges brought by Ohio teacher Dennis Robey, the Equal Employment Opportunity Comm’n threatens to prosecute the Nat’l Educ. Ass’n on May 20, if the union does not  stop forcing teachers to endure annually a burdensome and invasive process before respecting their religious objections to union affiliation. With the help of Nat’l Right to Work Legal Def. Fdn. attorneys, Robey brought charges against NEA and its local affiliates after they refused to honor his religious objection to supporting the union because it promotes pro-abortion, pro-homosexuality positions and constantly attempts to interfere with parental rights.

“The NEA union’s illegal scheme is intended to force teachers of faith to shut up and pay up,” said NRTWLDF vice president Stefan Gleason. “The EEOC’s action further  underscores that the nation’s largest teacher union is systematically persecuting people of faith.”

Robey began to make his religious objections known in 1995. During the 1999-2000 school year, union bosses rebuffed his longstanding objection and demanded that every year he must describe, in detail, his deeply held religious views, fill out a lengthy and invasive form, and file it with the union.  On the form, union officials asked probing personal questions about his relationship with God, his “religious affiliation,” and required him to obtain a signature from a “religious official” attesting to the validity of his beliefs.

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, union bosses may not force any employee to financially support a union if doing so violates the employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs.  In order to accommodate the conflict between an employee’s faith and a requirement to pay fees to a union he believes to be immoral, the law allows employees instead to donate that money to charity.

EEOC agreed with NRTWLDF attorneys’ arguments that the nationwide union policy unlawfully places an undue burden on teachers, and that teachers need only file a one-time objection to paying forced union dues.  The union’s illegal scheme is employed nationally against thousands of teachers whose sincerely held religious beliefs prevent them from supporting a union. Under EEOC’s ruling, NEA must stop the use of these practices or face further legal action.  [NRTWLDF 5/20/02]