Religion

Portland City Employee Kellymarie Griffin Wins Workplace Lawsuit, City Must Pay $19,000 for Religious Harassment

| by Courtney Nunes

A city worker in Portland recently won a federal court case — and $19,000 from the city of Portland — after she was harassed for using the phrase “God bless you.”

Parks Bureau employee Kellymarie Griffin (pictured) reportedly used the phrase after a co-worker sneezed in their offices at the Mount Tabor maintenance yard.

According to the federal lawsuit, the co-worker filed a complaint against Griffin and replied, “I’m tired of your Christian attitude.”

According to Griffin, co-worker Theresa Lareau had been harassing her for her Christian beliefs ever since Griffin began working at the yard in October of 2009. This had apparently been the last straw in a series of hostile comments made by Lareau.

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Griffin contends that Lareau added, “I’m going to file a complaint against you the next time I sneeze and you say ‘bless you.’ You’re just doing it for the attention; you wear it on your sleeve like a badge and I’m sick of it. It offends me.”

There were a series of complaints and meetings involving two separate parks bureau supervisors, Portland news station KATU adds.

Griffin immediately filed a lawsuit, claiming she was harassed for being Christian.

KATU also reports that Lareau filed paperwork of her own, seeking a civil stalking order against Griffin in March of 2012. Lareau reportedly went through five different attorneys before finally representing herself. She never got the stalking order, the news station adds.

Last week, a federal jury sided with Griffin on the case, ordering the city of Portland to pay the woman $19,000 for religious harassment.

According to KATU, Griffin was rewarded more than $5,000 in damages and $14,000 in noneconomic damages, stating that her workplace had become a “hostile work environment based on her religion.”

Sources: SF Gate, KATU