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Monday, December 11, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Jehovah’s Witness Sues Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (CN) - A Jehovah's Witness claims the Philadelphia City Council discriminated against her because a longtime councilwoman dislikes her religion.

In her federal complaint, Tyeisha Boulware says she worked as Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell's assistant for nearly 3 years. Boulware sued the City and the City Council, but not Blackwell.

Boulware claims that Blackwell, a Baptist, said, "I swear, I do not understand that religion!" during a staff meeting.

Boulware says that when she cited her religion as the basis for her refusal to wear a Christmas-themed shirt to Blackwell's "Homeless Holiday Party," Blackwell responded by asking: "If a man is injured on the Sabbath, would you help him?"

When Boulware responded affirmatively, she says, Blackwell said, "This is not going to work."

Boulware adds: "Blackwell then whispered something to [nonparty] Sandy Hayes, who proceeded to tell plaintiff, 'If you don't put the shirt on, this is going to be your job.'"

Boulware says Blackwell repeatedly questioned her about whether she voted.

Boulware said she refrained from voting on religious grounds, an answer that puzzled the councilwoman, who said "that she did not understand plaintiff's religion" according to the complaint.

She says Blackwell laid her off in early 2010.

Boulware seeks lost wages and punitive damages for religious discrimination.

She is represented by Timothy Kolman, of Penndel, Pa.

Blackwell could not immediately be reached for comment.

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