Marie Jean Pierre

When Marie Jean Pierre was hired, she warned her employer that her devout Christian faith prevented her from working on Sundays. For years, that wasn’t a problem.

As NBC News reports, the 60-year-old woman from Miami, Florida worked as a dishwasher at the Conrad Miami, a luxury hotel that is part of Park Hotels & Resorts, formerly known as Hilton Worldwide.

When Pierre began working at the hotel more than ten years ago, she explained that she wouldn’t to be able to work on Sundays and requested she not be scheduled for that day.

The mother-of-six was born in Haiti and is a member of the Soldiers of Christ Church, a Catholic missionary group dedicated to helping the poor. As she explained to NBC 6, she dedicates her Sundays to church and God:

“I love God. No work on Sunday, because Sunday I honor God.”

For years, the hotel worked with her to accommodate her faith. When she was scheduled to work on a Sunday in 2009, she offered to resign, but the hotel rearranged the schedule so she wouldn’t quit.

Six years later, things changed. A kitchen manager wanted Pierre to work on Sundays and started scheduling her on that day. For a short time, Pierre was allowed to swap shifts with other coworkers so she could get Sunday off, but eventually, that stopped.

In March of 2016, Pierre was fired for unexplained absences, having missed a series of scheduled Sundays. She sued the company under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, or sex.

Marc Brumer, Pierre’s attorney, explained to NBC 6 that his client had been pushed into being fired by the hotel:

“They accommodated her for seven years, and they easily could have accommodated her, but instead of doing that, they set her up for absenteeism and threw her out.”

He added that Pierre brought the suit to make a statement about religious faith and the workplace:

“She’s a soldier of Christ. She was doing this for all the other workers who are being discriminated against.”

A federal jury agreed. On Monday, she won her suit and was awarded $35,000 in back wages, $500,000 for emotional anguish pain and mental anguish, and $21 million in punitive damages.

Because there is a cap on punitive awards in federal court, Pierre is unlikely to receive the $21 million. But the money is not the point.

Brumer told NBC News he thinks Pierre will end up getting about $500,000: “I asked for $50 million, knowing that I was capped at $300,000. I didn’t do this for money. I did this to right the wrongs.”

A spokesperson for Hilton told NBC News that they were disappointed with the verdict:

During Ms. Pierre’s ten years with the hotel, multiple concessions were made to accommodate her personal and religious commitments. We intend to appeal, and demonstrate that the Conrad Miami was and remains a welcoming place for all guests and employees.

Brumer told NBC 6 they brought the case because they were hoping to establish a standard for how workplaces respect the religious obligations of their employees:

“This was not about money. This was about sending a message to other corporations whether big or small. Whatever size you are, if you’re going to take the blood and sweat of your workers, you better accommodate them or let them at least believe in their religious beliefs.”

Leave a comment

10 Replies to “Hotel Dishwasher Told Boss She Couldn’t Work Sundays. After They Fired Her, She Sued and Won $21 Million”

  • Tim Conger 2 years ago

    You are hired to do a job, and things are ever changing in the work force and an employer has the right to change job criteria to meet the needs of the company! I to am disappointed that a jury chose to give a rediculous amount of money to someone that decided to not be a team player! A lot of churches have set up Saturday services to accommodate changing life styles! I hope the hotel wins a reverse on the judgement!

    • Anonymous 2 years ago

      The needs of the company didn’t change. They agreed to this arrangement when they hired the employee and they show no valid hardship as to why they should be allowed to breach that agreement. She’s a long time employee who doesn’t deserve to be pushed out of a job for no reason except the company didn’t give a crap.

    • Jay 2 years ago

      Tim,

      Your religious views do not evolve at the age of 60. She should not in any way be expected to flex her religion to meet the job. That is why no one celebrates anything really anymore. All views are elastic. It seems that has also leaked into the moral fiber of our society. Morals are now elastic.

    • Adriana I Pena 2 years ago

      They are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of religion.

    • Joe Blow 2 years ago

      I am disappointed that a grown man never learned how to spell “ridiculous.”

    • Anonymous 2 years ago

      They won’t, and should have accommodated her for her religious faith. Clearly she worked all the days except for Sundays. They should’ve just left it as is.

  • Darren Seabolt 2 years ago

    Good for her, you go Warrior for Christ.

  • Anonymous 2 years ago

    This is great!! A worker should not be forced out of a job because the employer suddenly decides to change the rules. Plus, she was honest up front and the company agreed; the company accommodated her with no problem for years; she has been a good employee who deserves to be treated fairly. It’s time for big corporations to be punished for this type of behavior and even past time for employees to stop accepting this type of treatment!! It’s bad enough employees don’t get paid a living wage.

  • Duane Hallman 2 years ago

    If they hired her knowing she didn’t work Sunday’s and then changed the rules well too bad for the hotel.

  • Eva 2 years ago

    Do companies own you? If you are hired to work Mon to Sat, can companies tell you to work any shift and any time? Unfortunately this happens to hourly staff more than salaried people. The fact they knew this and it was a condition of employment makes it unacceptable to change later and fire someone over it.

We are excited to announce Dearly has joined forces with Mama’s Uncut. Helping Mom’s across the United States answer questions on life’s big challenges.

DEARLY JOINING FORCES WITH MAMA'S UNCUT