DEARBORN, Mich. — A former contractor for Ford Motor Company has filed a religious discrimination complaint, alleging that he was fired for speaking against the company’s support of homosexuality.
Thomas Banks has worked as a design and release engineer for Ford since 2011—that is until last August when he was fired on an accusation that he had violated the company’s “anti-harassment” policy for responding to an email employee newsletter from the company. The newsletter contained an article regarding the 20th anniversary of Ford’s Gay, Lesbian Or Bisexual Employees advocacy group (GLOBE).
Banks replied with a comment to express disagreement.
“Endorsing and promoting sodomy is of benefit to no one,” he wrote. “This topic is disruptive to the workplace and is an assault on Christians and morality, as well as antithetical to our design and our survival. Immoral sexual conduct should not be a topic for an automotive manufacturer to endorse or promote.”
“Heterosexual behavior creates life—homosexual behavior leads to death,” Banks continued.
But after submitting the comment, the contractor received an email from a human relations representative, requesting a meeting to “discuss something that was brought to my attention.” When Banks met with the individual, he was informed that he might have violated the company’s anti-harassment policy because of the comment he submitted.
He later received a voicemail informing him that he had been fired.
“I was stunned to realize that I was fired over expressing my faith in a single comment,” Banks said in a statement. “It felt like Ford was saying, ‘Even if you are respectful, your faith, and you as a Christian, are unwelcome at Ford.’”
Ford has also released a statement on the matter, but hasn’t commented on the specific complaint.
“[W]e believe this matter ultimately is between the individual and their agency employer,” it wrote. “Ford’s anti-harassment policy was created to foster a respectful, inclusive work environment for all, and we expect employees and agency personnel to act in accordance with this policy.”
With the assistance of the Liberty Institute in Texas, which provides legal services free for clients, Banks filed a complaint last month with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, contending that Ford had violated Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1991.
“If you read harassment to mean disagreement—which is what a lot of companies and people are increasingly starting to do—they’re saying, ‘If you disagree, you must hate,'” attorney Steve Cloty told reporters. “If we do that, there’s no freedom at all. We’re not diverse, we’re not tolerant, we’re not inclusive. We’ve just said, ‘Nobody can disagree,’ which is a scary thought.”
“We are shocked that Ford Motor Company would terminate one of their employees simply because he expressed his faith,” added Hiram Sasser, Liberty Institute Director of Litigation. “If Ford is allowed to get away with firing Mr. Banks over this comment, we fear that every person of faith will be punished for talking about his or her faith in the workplace. At Ford, if you speak about your faith as it relates to the company, even to the company, you may be terminated.”
Photo: Dave Parker