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Wiccan Says Firing|Was Religious Bias

HARTFORD (CN) - A sales manager says she was fired unfairly for making her annual religious pilgrimage to Salem, Mass., to celebrate the Wiccan New Year. She claims her boss told her, "You will need a new career in your new year. ... I will be damned if I have a devil-worshipper on my team."

In her federal complaint, Gina Uberti says she worked for Bath and Body Works for 8 years, and for 6 years had been allowed to make the annual trip in October celebrate the Wiccan holiday of Samhain.

She says she was granted her request to take vacation the week of Oct. 31, 2008 by her boss at the time, regional manager Scott Kerby. But Kerby was replaced by Sandra Scibelli, whom Bath and Body Works hired in 2008, according to the complaint.

On Nov. 4, 2008 Uberti says, she had a phone conversation with Scibelli, who expressed disappointment that Uberti had chosen the week of Oct. 31 for her vacation. Uberti says she explained that her vacation had already been approved and that she was celebrating a religious holiday.

Uberti says Scibelli responded, "That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Let me ask you where your priorities should have been?"

Uberti says she asked what was ridiculous, and Scibelli replied: "Well, you will need a new career in your new year." Scibelli allegedly added, "I will be damned if I have a devil-worshipper on my team."

Uberti says she was fired in November 2008. She seeks lost wages and punitive damages for religious discrimination.

She is represented by James Sabatini of Newington.

The lawsuit states that many Wiccans go to Salem, Mass. to celebrate their new year, which begins at sundown on Oct. 31, but it does not explain why they chose Salem - perhaps an unlikely choice - for the festival. Samhain, or the Wiccan New Year, is "the most important of the four 'greater Sabbats'" or festivals, for Wiccans, Uberti says.

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