Steelworker sues for firing after calling gay rainbow symbol ‘abomination’

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A 10-year employee of steelmaker Arconic has sued the Pittsburgh-based firm after he was fired last year for writing on an internal company web survey that the use of a rainbow to symbolize Gay Pride Month is “an abomination to God.”

Daniel Snyder, 63, was employed as a lead operator at Arconic’s Davenport Works in Riverdale, Iowa, beginning in 2011. After his termination, Mr. Snyder found work at a John Deere assembly line at “significantly less” pay, no overtime and “materially reduced” medical benefits, the filing states.

His attorneys are asking for punitive and compensatory damages after Mr. Snyder was fired in June 2021 for comments he believed were anonymous and in response to a company-wide “engagement survey” on the firm’s intranet. The comments allegedly offended another worker.

Mr. Snyder also wrote that the rainbow “is not meant to be a sign for sexual gender,” the lawsuit notes. Attorneys at the Thomas More Society, a public-interest law firm representing the former employee, said Mr. Snyder had repeatedly informed his employers that his statements were “based on his sincerely held Christian beliefs” and intended as part of the anonymous survey.

The firm “treated Mr. Snyder as a bigot,” the suit alleges, and it “ignored” the information Mr. Snyder stated about his actions.

The complaint alleges the company’s diversity policy “actually punishes diversity of opinion, allowing only one opinion — the company’s approved narrative on morally freighted issues — while treating any employee’s religious opinion or objection to the contrary, even if intended to be anonymous and expressed in a single instance, as grounds for immediate termination with no accommodation whatsoever.”

According to Thomas More Society attorney Michael McHale, Mr. Snyder’s “brief comment, in attempting to respond to a company web survey, was explicitly and facially religious.”

Mr. McHale added, “It is Arconic that is refusing to respect the diversity of Mr. Snyder’s beliefs or to acknowledge that he was offended by the company’s choice to co-opt the rainbow to promote same-sex marriage and gender ideology. Arconic, in its attempt to force Mr. Synder to eschew his deeply and sincerely held religious beliefs, without attempting to reasonably accommodate him, has violated a very basic tenet of both federal and state anti-discrimination law.”

In an email Friday morning, a company spokesperson said, “Arconic does not typically comment on pending litigation.”

In February, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a “right-to-sue” letter allowing Mr. Snyder to challenge his dismissal in court.

The familiar rainbow flag as a symbol of gay rights dates back to 1978, according to History.com. Designer Gilbert Baker, a Vietnam veteran, was commissioned to create the flag by then-San Francisco City Councilman Harvey Milk for the city’s annual pride parade.

Correction: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article misstated the title of the late Harvey Milk.





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