By now just about every Wiccan and Pagan blog around that reports news has given some take on the lawsuit filed by Bath and Body Works employee Gina Uberti from Connecticut against the company alleging that she was fired under the auspice of religious discrimination for taking a week off from work to attend Samhain festivities in Salem in 2008. The most notable comment that’s been reported and is noted in the paperwork that was filed for the suit came from Sandra Scibelli, the regional manager that fired Uberti, who is reported as having said “I will be damned if I have a devil-worshiper on my team.” This situation still has yet to play out, however another Wiccan discrimination suit is making it’s way out to the news channels, this one having been filed by a former Google employee who is alleging not only religious discrimination but also sexual harassment.
Former Google employee James Bara who worked out of the Google Atlanta office, has filed a lawsuit against the company saying that his former supervisor Pam Sohn first sexually harassed a transgendered employee which resulted in sexual discrimination for other office members and then personally harassed him because of his Wiccan faith. In the papers filed with the Atlanta Division of the Georgia District Court Bara is alleging that he is a victim of violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the same basis for the suit that Uberti has filed against Bath and Body Works.
So the story here goes that in the Google office where Bara was a worked as an assistant in the data center, all was well until a new employee, Asheligh Rentz, joined the team in July 2008. Sohn learned of Rentz’s sexual preferences and transgender lifestyle and apparently soon became the focus of many comments from Sohn around the office. It’s alleged by Bara that Sohn made many inappropriate comments about Rentz to other members of the office. Bara says that Sohn became hostile toward him after he asked that the comments about Rentz stop at which time Sohn began making discriminating comments about his Wiccan beliefs, including singing “ding dong the witch is dead” from “The Wizard of Oz” around Bara while also making him fill out, what Bara feels, was extra paperwork when coming in and out of the data center and no longer allowed him to conduct off-site training. All in all Bara is claiming that Sohn created a hostile work environment for him and that his attempts to get help from the Human Resources Department did nothing and may have led to his eventual firing which Bara has commented as being “an obvious, transparent, and classic case of retaliation” (over Bara’s 3 years as a Google employee he had received positive performance reviews, pay raises and promotions).
In a statement from Google they have taken a position of confidence in the situation saying:
After a thorough investigation, we have no reason to believe James Bara was discriminated against or treated unfairly, and we’ll defend ourselves vigorously against these charges. Google values a diverse and respectful workforce and does not tolerate discrimination.
There doesn’t seem to be any word on the state of Sohn’s employment and the lawsuit was only filed on the 29th of October. This will be an interesting one to watch in the coming months.