A former dishwasher at a Miami hotel, fired after missing work on Sundays for religious reasons, was awarded a $21 million jury verdict. 60-year-old Marie Jean Pierre was a dishwasher at the Conrad Miami Hotel for more than a decade until she was fired in March 2016.
Pierre, a devout Christian missionary born in Haiti, said she was fired by her boss at the hotel after she missed six Sundays from work to attend Bethel Baptist Church in Miami.
Pierre argued that she had informed her employer when she was hired that she could not work Sundays because of her religious beliefs and should not have been scheduled to work on the Sundays she missed.
“I love God. No work on Sunday, because Sunday I honor God,” Pierre said Wednesday in an interview with NBC 6 Miami.
Her lawsuit argued that her former employer had violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which protects workers from discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex or national origin.
A jury in federal court ruled in her favor on Monday, granting her $21 million in damages, plus $35,000 in back wages and $500,000 for emotional pain and mental anguish.
“They accommodated her for seven years, and they easily could have accommodated her, but instead of doing that, they set her up for absenteeism and threw her out,” her attorney Marc Brumer said.
“She’s a soldier of Christ. She was doing this for all the other workers who are being discriminated against.”