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Wednesday, May 29, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Fired Teacher May Sue Over ‘Libations Ceremony’

PHILADELPHIA (CN) - The 3rd Circuit revived a wrongful-termination lawsuit filed by a Christian teacher who claimed she was fired for complaining about a charter school's "libations ceremony" that she refused to participate in because she viewed it as ancestor worship.

Jessica Wilkerson attended the New Media Technology Charter School's libations ceremony - an event that neither party fully explains - but chose not to participate on religious grounds. Afterward, she allegedly complained to a school official, but the school "made no effort to accommodate her religious beliefs or to engage in an interactive process to accommodate them."

The appeals court affirmed dismissal of her failure-to-accommodate claim, because Wilkerson never showed that she had notified the school that the ceremony offended her.

But the judges allowed Wilkerson to sue over her firing, saying the lower court erred in dismissing these claims based on her status as an at-will employee. Her employee status does not preclude the possibility of discriminatory or retaliatory firing, the court ruled.

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