Federal Court Rules Against NY Worker Fired for Refusing to Attend LGBTQ Training

On Monday, a federal appellate court ruled that the firing of a New York man who refused to attend a pro-LGBTQ training session was legal.

As reported by the New York Post, Raymond Zdunski argued in his lawsuit that his employer, the Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), attempted to “change his religious beliefs about gender and sexuality” by forcing him to attend a diversity training session focused on people who claim to be LGBTQ. His employer refused his request for a religious exception, citing his Christian beliefs.

Zdunski subsequently sought $10 million in damages, as well as reinstatement and back pay. The lawsuit was originally dismissed last year by District Judge Geoffrey Crawford. The recent ruling by the Manhattan-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Crawford’s original decision, supporting BOCES’ decision to fire him.

In both cases, the judge and the court claimed that Zdunski was wrong to claim he was the victim of “unlawful religious discrimination.” Crawford’s original ruling specifically noted that BOCES was required to provide such diversity training by a state law, the Dignity for All Students Act, and thus claimed that to give Zdunski an exemption would be committing a state crime.

“It just seems like the country is against the Christian way of life, and it’s for everything else,” Zdunski said in response to the latest ruling. “We’re not allowed to practice our way of life but anyone else can, it seems.”

The company issued its own statement after the court’s ruling, saying that “we agree with the decisions of both the United States District Court and the Court of Appeals, and remain committed to fostering a safe and supportive environment for all students and staff.”

BOCES CEO and district superintendent David O’Rourke repeatedly claimed that Zdunski was not fired for his Christian beliefs, but instead was allegedly fired for refusing a training session that the company declared to be mandatory.

Zdunski’s lawyer, Kristina Heuser, said after the ruling that her client’s rights were suppressed “for no other reason than his refusal to be indoctrinated with anti-Biblical teaching.”

“Though the lower courts did not find in his favor,” Heuser added, “we are not deterred and will seek redress from the US Supreme Court.”

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About Eric Lendrum

Eric Lendrum graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the Secretary of the College Republicans and the founding chairman of the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter. He has interned for Young America’s Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the White House, and has worked for numerous campaigns including the 2018 re-election of Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-22). He is currently a co-host of The Right Take podcast.

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