HOUSTON (CN) – A Texas logistics company fired one of its employees because she was not Christian enough and “needed to examine her walk with Jesus,” the woman claims in court.
Dee Anne Thomson sued Houston-based Gulf Winds International for age and religious discrimination and retaliation, claiming it fired her after she refused to distribute religious literature at work.
Thomson, a 52-year-old mother of five daughters, was transferred to a different facility, demoted and eventually fired after she voiced opposition to the company’s overtly religious practices, according to her lawsuit filed Tuesday in Harris County District Court.
Gulf Winds is a third-party logistics provider in the transportation industry. Its website says its mission “is to glorify God by providing world class logistics services through continual investment in our people, clients, community and the world we live in.”
“Despite the fact that they are subject to laws regarding religious discrimination, defendant on a daily, routine, and regular basis sent emails containing Christian religious information, quotes and prayers to employees,” Thomson’s complaint states.
Employees, including Thomson, were consistently told to “think and pray” on daily work and personal decisions, she says.
According to the lawsuit, Gulf Winds’ chairman sent out a “very long, odd email” after the 2012 presidential election “outlining how disappointed he was that [Mitt] Romney did not win and what that meant for the country.” New Testament Bible verses were allegedly interlaced into the email about the Mormon Republican presidential nominee.
Gulf Winds’ executives and managers also held meetings for C12, “an organization that holds itself out as America’s leading Christian CEO forum and a cutting edge Christian business leadership grounded in timeless Biblical wisdom,” according to the complaint. Thomson claims upper management conducted these meetings during business hours.
According to the lawsuit, Gulf Winds stopped doing business with a supply vendor after they failed to attend C12 meetings.
In addition to the C12 meetings, Gulf Winds allegedly published religious booklets with the company letterhead and expected employees to distribute the literature throughout its facilities.
Thomson says she told the company president that employees reporting to her said they were not comfortable being forced to distribute the religious books to drivers.
The president then took Thomson out to lunch to tell her that “she was not Christian enough and that she needed to examine her walk with Jesus,” according to the complaint.
Weeks later, Gulf Winds decided to move Thomson to a different facility and replace her with a younger manager “with no experience in her area,” she claims. The company allegedly told Thomson that “they were giving her grace from God and that grace would come back to them, as that is how God works.”
Thomson says she was then fired within weeks of her demotion.
“Defendant discriminated and retaliation against plaintiff based on religion and because of her opposition [to] forced religious material in the work place,” the lawsuit states.
Thomson claims she was not the only employee fired on religious grounds. According to the complaint, Gulf Winds “fired an employee solely because she had a rainbow sticker on her car,” which it assumed to mean that the employee was gay.
A representative for Gulf Winds declined to comment directly on the lawsuit in an email Wednesday, but said the company is “committed to defending our good name and reputation.”
Thomson seeks punitive damages against Gulf Winds International for claims of employment discrimination on age and religious grounds, retaliation and violation of the Commission on Human Rights Act. She is represented by Ellen Sprovach with Rosenberg Sprovach in Houston, who could not be reached for comment.