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He Was Demoted for Failing |to Pray, Rail Worker Says

(CN) - A BNSF Railway worker claims he was demoted because he declined to join his supervisor in prayer meetings at work. James Dunkin claims his boss proselytized on the job, handed out booklets that contained "instructions for raising 'masculine sons and feminine daughters,'" and says that when he objected to the coerced prayers, the boss told him that "he needed to attend the prayer meetings or find another position."

To top it off, Dunkin says that the offensive boss, Jeff Kirby, once "stood in his office with his door open and pants down" staring at him suggestively.

In his federal complaint in Kansas City, Kan., Dunkin says that after BNSF transferred him unfairly, he was tormented by his new co-workers because the company had leaked personal medical information about him.

Dunkin has worked at BNSF since 1996, and in April 2008 became a general foreman in Montana, where Kirby was his immediate supervisor.

Dunkin claims that Kirby often asked him and other employees to "pray with him," and distributed religious materials, "including a book called 'Point Man,' which contained detailed discussion of 'sexual sin,' instructions for raising 'masculine sons and feminine daughters,' and stated that it is sinful for a married couple not to have children."

The complaint continues: "In June of 2009, Kirby began to hold prayer meetings with members of management, and coerced the Plaintiff into attending. Plaintiff told Kirby that he was uncomfortable with the meetings and did not wish to attend. Kirby told the Plaintiff that he needed to attend the prayer meetings or find another position.

On one occasion, Kirby stood in his office with his door open and his pants down, and stared at Plaintiff in a suggestive manner."

When he complained to Human Resources about Kirby's behavior, Dunkin says, BNSF "retaliated" by transferring him to the graveyard shift, "failed to take corrective action against Kirby, and told the Plaintiff that his only option was to transfer to another location. All of the transfer options presented by the human resources department involved demotions, a cut in pay, and materially different job conditions."

Then he was transferred to Kansas City, where he says he "began to hear disparaging comments from his coworkers and subordinates about private medical information that had previously been disclosed to Defendant in connection with a request for leave."

He filed a discrimination complaint with the EEOC and received a right to sue letter.

Dunkin demands punitive damages for religious discrimination, retaliation, hostile work environment, unauthorized disclosure of medical information, invasion of privacy and emotional distress.

He is represented by Andrew Schendel from the Castle Law Office of Kansas City, Mo.

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