A grocery store owner in Tabor, Iowa, has been ordered to pay the unemployment benefits to a former employee who quit after he lectured her on the Bible.
Tyler Stille, owner of Tabor Market & Deli, reportedly made all of his employees aware of his religious beliefs before they were even hired.
“We have a Christian fish symbol on our sign,” he told the Des Moines Register. “Before we hire anybody, we tell them our faith. We play Christian music in our store all the time, and we always make sure that’s OK with them because that’s a part of our life.”
Employee Sherri Chafin said this didn’t bother her — until he took it too far.
“[Stille’s beliefs] didn’t bother me one bit — not until he started preaching to me and telling me that I had to read a part of the Bible,” said Chafin.
“I don’t believe in the Bible,” she added. “I was never big on Christianity because I just don’t believe in the churches and worshipping God one day of the week in a building.”
The Bible wasn’t the only thing she was lectured on, reports the Associated Press. Stille also reportedly made several comments about Chafin’s lifestyle.
“He asked me if I was receiving food stamps, or any welfare, or anything like that,” Chafin testified at an unemployment hearing. “He told me that if I was, it was unjust because I worked and I lived with my roommate — who is my boyfriend and we’re not married.”
“He was very intimidating,” she added.
Chafin quit her job at the grocery store in January of 2012, after Stille had lectured her on “the wisdom of King Solomon.”
It was then that she filed for unemployment pay.
Administrative Law Judge Julie Elder sided with Chafin, calling Stille’s behavior “inappropriate, unacceptable and unprofessional,” and had created an “intolerable work environment.”
“He effectively held her hostage in his office and lectured her regarding his religious and moral beliefs and her alleged shortcomings in his eyes,” Elder ruled.
Stille, however, was reportedly shocked over the judge’s decision.
“It’s just a lot of baloney and it’s more of government getting involved where it shouldn’t,” he said. “I’m just really frustrated with the whole mess.”
The Des Moines Register reports that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits mandatory religious activity at a non-faith business, and that unsolicited proselytizing is “a form of religious harassment.”