An Oregon construction worker is suing the company he worked for after he said they fired him for refusing to attend a weekly Bible study meeting, The Oregonian reported.
Ryan Coleman’s lawsuit for $800,000 alleges owner Joel Dahl, of Dahld UP Construction, said employees were required to take part in a regular Bible study session by a Christian pastor during their work day. Coleman tried to tell Dahl that it was illegal to require attendance but the boss refused to relent.
Coleman said he didn’t want to lose his job so he attended but finally told his boss he couldn’t attend any longer.
“I said ‘I’ve kept an open mind, and it’s just not my thing.’ And he said, ‘Well, I’m going to have to replace you,’” Coleman said in an interview. “He said ‘You’re not going to tell me how to run my own company. I said ‘I’m not trying to tell you how to run your own company, but you’re not going to tell me what god to pray to.’”
Coleman is half Caucasian and half Native American with both Cherokee and Blackfoot heritage. He told Dahl that his beliefs are more indigenous.
Ultimately he was fired in April 2018, the lawsuit said, after working just seven months. The legal team has already set up a petition for Coleman’s reinstatement.
“This is so illegal,” said Coleman’s attorney, Corinne Schram. “Unless you are a religious organization like a church, you cannot force your employees to participate in religious activities.”
Dahl and his lawyer aren’t refuting the claim that employees are required to attend Bible study. They claimed that Dahl is allowed to require it, however, because he pays them to attend.
“Mr. Dahl feels that it’s unfortunate that he (Coleman) is now trying to exploit Mr. Dahl’s honorable intentions for unjustified financial gain,” said Dahl’s attorney Kent Hickam.
Dahl said that God is a big part of his life after serving time for second-degree assault and being a drug addict. Similarly, Coleman said that he’s served time for delivery of methamphetamines and briefly lost custody of his children. He has been clean and sober for four years and just got his two children back.
The company’s Facebook page is littered with praise for Jesus and God for the work that is done on homes.
“Fixing up this old house at times I was discouraged ‘cause there was so much to fix. But Me and God did this together and we got er done,” one post said.
Coleman is fearful his past will prevent him from being able to find work, so he stuck with the Bible study until he finally decided to take a stand.