A federal judge ruled against a man alleging the New York-based Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) fired him because he refused to attend a “mandatory” LGBTQ training event in 2018.
The employee, Raymond Zdunski, had worked for BOCES for seven years.
According to a report by Fox News, BOCES is a “public organization that was created by the New York State Legislature in 1948 to provide shared educational programs and services to school districts within the state.”
On Tuesday, a federal appellate court rejected Zdunski’s appeal, which charged wrongful termination and “unlawful religious discrimination.” Zdunski was seeking reinstatement, retroactive pay and $10,000,000 in damages.
District Court Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford dismissed Zdunski’s suit, writing: “The plaintiff argued that the LGBTQ training and makeup session were aimed at changing his religious beliefs about gender and sexuality [and that attending the training] would have caused him to violate the religious teachings to which he adheres.”
Crawford concluded that Zdunski did not adequately support his claims, noting that BOCES had the right to provide “training intended to help prevent discrimination in the workplace.”
Crawford wrote: “Plaintiff’s unsupported assumption that Defendants believe him to be ‘bigoted’ due to his religious beliefs is insufficient to support an inference of discrimination. [However] no facts in the record support a finding that Mr. Zdunski was terminated because of his religion.”
Zdunski was disappointed in the ruling, saying: “It just seems like the country is against the Christian way of life, and it’s for everything else. We’re not allowed to practice our way of life, but anyone else can, it seems.”
BOCES maintains that Zdunski was fired for “insubordination” and is “committed to providing educational and employment opportunities in an environment free from unlawful discrimination, including harassment and intimidation.”
Kristina S. Heuser, an attorney for Zdunski, argued her client’s rights were violated “for no other reason than his refusal to be indoctrinated with anti-biblical teaching.”
Heuser told the Buffalo News: “Though the lower courts did not find in his favor, we are not deterred and will seek redress from the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Heuser shared additional comments in an interview with Fox News Digital:
“We are very disappointed that the Second Circuit decided the matter incorrectly. “This country was founded upon and for religious freedom, but these days people of faith — particularly Christian faith — are among the most discriminated against in our nation.”
“Mr. Zdunski sought a religious accommodation to avoid a training his employer was requiring aimed at teaching’ cultural sensitivity’ towards transgender persons.”
“Mr. Zdunski was an account clerk,” Heuser continued. “He worked on spreadsheets in a cubicle. The training was not even remotely related to the requirements of his job.”
“The Left will stop at nothing to force their ideology upon everyone, including stripping people of their livelihood if they do not submit to their beliefs.”
“Mr. Zdunski refused to violate his sincerely held religious beliefs by submitting to teaching that contradicts what Scripture teaches, which is his absolute right under prevailing federal law. The Court’s ruling was clearly erroneous, and we intend to petition the United States Supreme Court to hear Mr. Zdunski’s case.”
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