A former Ford Motor Company contractor has filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The worker alleges that the automaker fired him after he made homophobic comments to Ford staff.
According to WXYZ Detroit, Thomas Banks was an employee of Rapid Global Business Solutions, which was contracted to provide services to Ford. Mr. Banks worked as a product engineer.
Last July, Banks received a Ford newsletter that explained the company’s LGBT-inclusive policies. (As you might recall, Ford earned a perfect score of “100” on the HRC’s most recent Corporate Equality Index.) In response to the newsletter, Banks submitted the following comment:
“For this Ford Motor should be thoroughly ashamed. Endorsing and promoting sodomy is of benefit to no one. 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. And yes-this is historic-but not in a good way. Never in the history of mankind has a culture survived that promotes sodomy. Heterosexual behavior creates life- homosexual behavior leads to death.”
In August, Banks learned that his comment was likely a violation of Ford’s anti-harassment policy. Later that day, he was fired.
Now, Banks is suing Ford and his former employer, RGBS, claiming that they discriminated against him on the basis of his religious beliefs. He’s being represented by the Liberty Institute, which shouldn’t be confused with the SPLC-verified hate group the Liberty Council, though judging from its use of terms like “pro-homosexual”, the two probably may have more similarities than differences.
Ford has said that this is a matter between Banks and his former employer. RGBS had had no comment, other than to say that it works to create “an inclusive work environment [that] respects the rights of all individuals”.
I’m not a lawyer – I’ll leave it to the likes of Baird Quinn LLC to deal with workplace discrimination and other legal issues in business. (Thankfully.) It seems to me, though, that Banks’ complaint isn’t entirely religious in nature. Instead of citing biblical verses, he discusses morality and the tired old chestnut that “heterosexual behavior creates life” — conveniently ignoring the existence of birth control and the fact that straight people enjoy non-procreative sex just as much as gays do.
And even if Banks’ comments are religious in nature, it seems to me that Ford isn’t discriminating against Banks simply because he holds deeply religious views. I’m sure that there are plenty of devout racists and anti-Semites and misogynists wandering Ford’s halls, but Ford isn’t hunting them down and handing out pink slips.
No, the way I see it, the problem is that Banks expressed his views in a way that was disruptive and created a hostile workplace environment. If he were a Ford employee, it’s possible that the company could’ve sent him to sensitivity training. Since he was a contract worker, though, the company had less obligation to do so (and more obligation to remove him, lest it opens itself up to lawsuits from those Banks might’ve offended). It could be argued that Ford’s contract with Banks covered their discrimination policy, the Ford’s Code of Conduct Handbook does state that their policy does extend to anyone who wishes to do business with the manufacturer. Since they have a near zero-tolerance for discrimination of any kind, they didn’t see it as appropriate to keep Banks on after the initial incident. No one should be discriminated against, especially when all they come to do is work. For some, this can be something that occurs daily, so it comes as no surprise to find that some people may opt to get independent legal advice from professional lawyers, to find out what the best solution would be regarding workplace discrimination.
An iron-clad business contract that outlines policies such as discrimination, especially when working with external companies is needed by other organizations since it could protect them from any litigation should they find themselves in a similar situation to Ford. For this reason, having a good business contracts lawyer would be a welcome benefit to protecting any business.
If anyone is guilty of any religious discrimination, it might be RGBS — though there’s probably some legal precedent that allows companies to dismiss workers on a range of grounds when they’re being disruptive.
Of course, if Banks had been a member of a union, and if Michigan’s GOP officials hadn’t made it a right-to-work state back in 2012, things might’ve turned out differently.
3 thoughts on “Ford Fires Contractor For Homophobic Comments, Contractor Files Religious Discrimination Claim: Who’s In The Right?”
Very well written. I accept more of what he’s thoughts are only since he did not quote biblical verses. I have my higher power (or Lord if you will) but I take exception with bible thumpers. The bible (doesn’t matter which of the 100’s there are) is written by man and his personal slant. Show me a proofed signed copy of the bible signed by the Lord the I will follow every word of it. And I am not God fearing since my God (term used loosely) in compassionate and is not to be feared.
I have been partnered with the same man (no we will not be married) for 40 years in October. And I have some issue with a lot of the gay push on certain issues. What men and/or women do behind closed doors is their business. But all the (excuse the following comment) flaming faggots I see are disgusting. I don’t care to see freaky straight people or “expressive” gays trying to shove it down my throat. Your sexual preference is no ones business I do not care who you are.
Again, I enjoyed your article as it was well written and looked at all sides without an overtone on the gay issue is always right.
Tricky subject. I do believe in higher power but is it God up there or E.T. flying on a space jet, I don´t know and I don´t care. In these times, PR is everything. Especially in the car industry where the sale results are slow and everybody is doing their best to survive. I wouldn´t be surprised that he got fired so that Ford can be seen as a company which strongly stands behind their believes and statement they made. God doesn´t drives cars, we do.
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