Late last year CLCMA’s civil litigation attorneys filed a lawsuit in federal court, alleging religious discrimination and retaliation on behalf of a government employee. CLCMA’s client, an American citizen and U.S. Army Bronze Star recipient and combat veteran, worked for the Department of Defense as a government contractor when he received a job offer for a direct staff position in the same department. In his role as a contractor, CLCMA’s client received top performance awards and held a security clearance, which he obtained after successfully completing the vetting process. Prior to his new staff role CLCMA’s client underwent an employee mental health evaluation, which included questions about whether the client consumed alcohol. In response, he explained that he did not drink alcohol because his religious beliefs prohibited him from doing so. At that point, the psychologist followed up with many specific questions about his religious beliefs and practice of Islam. No other topics received nearly as much focus as his religious views. After the examination, CLCMA’s client learned that his security clearance assessment would not be completed, because he failed his mental health evaluation. CLCMA’s client, a U.S. citizen and veteran with no history of criminal behavior or mental health issues, never received any explanation as to why his security clearance processing stopped. His colleagues who successfully underwent the same mental health evaluations were not questioned about their religious beliefs at all. As a result of this, our client lost out on an opportunity for valuable career advancement and experience and was left with little recourse to challenge his government employer’s determination.
CLCMA is committed to the principle that all Americans be able to pursue their chosen careers, free from unwarranted scrutiny and discrimination based on their constitutionally protected religious practices. CLCMA looks forward to fighting for its clients’ right to do just that as this lawsuit progresses through federal court. “This case shows a bright line distinction, where our client performed the same duties and held nearly the same clearance, handling the same information, in his contractor status as he would have in his direct employee status,” noted Christina Jump, Civil Litigation Department Head. “The only thing that stopped him from accepting the offered position, which came with more benefits and promotional chances, was the government’s reaction to his chosen religion. This is exactly what Title VII forbids, no matter who the employer is. The government has no more license to discriminate on the basis of religion than a retailer or restaurant.”
CLCMA looks forward to fighting for the rights of this client and all its others, and upholding fair and equal application of nondiscrimination statutes and the Constitution for all Americans.