Attorneys say government agency violated employee's right to religious freedom
DALLAS – December 26, 2017 – Representatives from Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA), a constitutional rights group, are saying that the fabled war on Christmas has taken a new turn – this time with supervisors in the IRS taking action against a non-Christian employee who refuse to participate in Christian activities at work. (Boyd v IRS, Case No. 1:17-Cv-02496-CRC)
A lawsuit filed by attorneys at Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America (CLCMA), a nonprofit law firm funded by MLFA, claims that supervisors at the IRS discriminated against its employee Thasha Boyd, a practicing Muslim, and then retaliating against Boyd after she filed a complaint.
Boyd's supervisors became upset when she expressed that she did not want to participate in an office-wide "Secret Santa" activity, hang Christmas stockings at her desk, attend a Christmas dinner or participate in a holiday cookie exchange.
Boyd's supervisors informed their IRS employees that participation in these Christian-themed activities was mandatory and would be part of their employee evaluations, even though Boyd expressed that participating would conflict with her clearly expressed and sincerely held religious beliefs.
Following Boyd's refusal to participate in Christian-themed activities at the IRS, her supervisors threatened to write her up and then proceeded to unduly scrutinize her performance by reopening closed cases in an attempt to identify mistakes. Her supervisors also retroactively lowered her performance appraisal rating.
In the lawsuit, attorneys at CLCMA state that Boyd's "work environment, employee evaluations, and the feedback that she received on her work all suffered following her refusal to participate in mandated religious activities."
According to her attorneys, Boyd was compelled to leave her position with the Department of Treasury as a result of her unfair treatment by her supervisors.
Attorneys are asking the court to award Boyd lost wages and other economic damages as well as punitive damages. The lawsuit also asks the court to forbid the IRS from retaliating in the future against employees who assert their right to work without being discriminated against and to forbid the IRS from requiring employees to participate in religious-based activities or activities that conflict with sincerely held religious beliefs of its employees.
Muslim Legal Fund of America is a national nonprofit charity that funds projects to protect and defend constitutional rights in America. Established in 2001, MLFA has defended freedom of speech, freedom of religion, right to a fair trial, due process of law and many other civil liberties. Learn more at https://www.mlfa.org.
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