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Woman Wins $21.5 Million Verdict for Religious Discrimination

Marie Jean Pierre worked as a dishwasher at the Conrad Miami. She let her employer know at the time of her hire in 2006 that she would be unable to work Sundays because of her religion. She was a member of the Soldiers of Christ Church, which is a Catholic missionary group that helps the poor and impoverished. At the beginning of her employment, Conrad Miami accommodated her religious beliefs by not scheduling her for work on Sundays. On one occasion in 2009, she was assigned a Sunday shift. However, when she resigned because she could not work, the hotel decided to grant her accommodation in order to keep her from quitting.
In 2015, her supervisor demanded that she work on Sundays and requested letters from her and her pastor to explain her religious needs. Her co-workers offered to swap shifts with her to help her out but the supervisor insisted that she be available to work Sundays. Ultimately, Ms. Jean Pierre was fired after missing six Sundays, purportedly for “alleged misconduct, negligence, and ‘unexcused absences.’”
A Miami jury awarded her $35,000 in back wages and $500,00 for emotional pain and mental anguish with the remaining $21 million in punitive damages. She will however not receive the punitive damages because of the federal $300,000 cap on punitive damages.