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Religious discrimination lawsuit filed against Merrill Lynch

Religious discrimination is, unfortunately, still very prevalent in American workplaces. Sometimes it is related to discrimination based on country of origin. Other times, American-born citizens face religious discrimination for having less mainstream beliefs or for practicing their beliefs in everyday life.

In a lawsuit filed against Merrill Lynch, a former branch manager has accused the company of discriminating against him because he is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). He claims that after 25 years of faithful and successful service, he was forced to quit because his work environment became intolerable.

The man was in charge of more than 100 advisers in five different California offices. The highly successful branch generated up to $70 billion in annual revenue under his management.

The man had attended Brigham Young University, which is affiliated with the LDS church. Because of his connection to the school, his bosses encouraged the man to recruit new employees from the university, which he did for over ten years.

Then, during an anonymous employee survey conducted in 2010, some employees complained that the company hired too many LDS church members. Complaints also stated that the branch manager was "preaching" LDS doctrine at work.

The results of this survey set events in motion that would ultimately force the man to leave his job. The man claims his bosses demanded a public apology for "creating an environment of favoritism." His request to transfer to another office was also denied.

Finally, after filing a complaint against his boss and a human resources manager, that complaint was wrongfully shared with employees. Despite the fact that the man quit his job, his discrimination lawsuit also includes allegations of wrongful termination. The man claims that after the complaint was wrongfully shared, his work environment became intolerable and he was forced to quit.

Anyone can be a victim of discrimination in the workplace, from a regular employee to a high-ranking manager. No matter what position someone is in, religious discrimination in the workplace is unacceptable.

Source: Thomson Reuters Westlaw News, "Former manager sues Merrill for discrimination," Helen Kearney, 12 May 2011

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