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Man Says He Was Fired for not Being Christian

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (CN) - A marketing director was fired after questioning new evangelical Christian-based policies in the workplace, a federal complaint alleges.

Mike Fuerstenau, who identifies himself as a "non-Christian," says he began working for Flanders Electric Motor Service Inc. on May 16, 2011, as director of marketing.

While the family-owned Flanders Electric Motor has always been "a Christian belief based organization," the situation took a dramatic turn in the fall of 2012, when the company started an in-house Christian ministry, according to the federal complaint filed Wednesday.

On Sept. 5, 2012, Fuerstenau allegedly received a companywide email inviting employees to participate in the ministry. A short time later he received an invitation to attend a Christian leadership event in Atlanta, Ga., according to the complaint.

In both instances, Fuerstenau says, he immediately expressed his concern about the defendant evangelizing Christianity in the workplace.

"However, several of Defendant's higher-management personnel attended the event," the complaint states.

Fuerstenau says a month later his supervisor announced the company would henceforth be making all business decision[s] ... based on prayer, fasting and asking God for guidance."

Moreover, the supervisor established a "prayer team" comprised of various employees who "will be praying, fasting and asking God for guidance on all of Defendant's decisions going forward, including mission statement, values, personnel (hiring, firing, job duties, promotions), mergers/acquisitions, execution and planning," according to the complaint.

"In fact, Defendant's Values Mission & Vision pamphlet contains numerous scripture quotes and Biblical footnote cites," the plaintiff says.

Fuerstenau says he repeatedly questioned the new policies, which also included the daily posting of scripture to work computers, expressing concern that they were discriminatory against non-Christians employees.

Fuerstenau was allegedly told the company would address his concerns, but received no further response.

After the company allegedly announced that employee insurance would no longer cover therapeutic abortions, Fuerstenau says he wrote an email that said: "As a non-Christian I am offended that Christ, God and Bible-based faith are being evangelized by the company to employees at an ever increasing clip. When I started in 2011 we were faith-based; we are now faith-directed."

He was allegedly fired 10 days later. The reason given for his termination was for allegedly falsifying an expense report from a previous work event that had taken place in the fall, according to the complaint.

Fuerstenau seeks punitive damages, reinstatement and injunctive relief for violations of Title VII.

He is represented by Kyle Biesecker of Biesecker, Dutkanych & Macer.

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