Steelworker sues for being fired after calling rainbow gay pride symbol an ‘abomination’

A 10-year-old employee of steelmaker Arconic has sued the Pittsburgh-based company after it was fired last year for writing on an internal company online survey that using a rainbow to symbolizing Gay Pride month is “an abomination to God”.

Daniel Snyder, 63, was employed as a senior operator at Arconic’s Davenport Works in Riverdale, Iowa, beginning in 2011. After his layoff, Mr. Snyder found work on a John Deere assembly line with a salary “significantly lower,” no overtime, and “significantly reduced medical benefits,” the filing said.

His attorneys are seeking punitive and compensatory damages after Mr. Snyder was fired in June 2021 for comments he believed to be anonymous and in response to a company-wide “engagement investigation” into the company intranet. The comments allegedly offended another worker.

Mr. Snyder also wrote that the rainbow “is not meant to be a sign of sexual sex,” the lawsuit notes. Lawyers for 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 sincere Christian beliefs” and intended to be part of the anonymous survey.

The company “treated Mr. Snyder like a fanatic,” according to the suit, and it “ignored” the information provided by Mr. Snyder about his actions.

The complaint alleges that the company’s diversity policy “actually punishes diversity of opinion, allowing only one opinion – the company’s approved narrative on morally charged issues – while treating opinion or any employee’s religious objection to the contrary, even if intended to be anonymous and expressed in a single instance, as grounds for immediate termination without any accommodation.

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 refuses 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 gay marriage and gender ideology. Arconic, in its attempt to force Mr. Synder to give up his deep and sincere religious beliefs, without attempting to reasonably accommodate him, violated a very fundamental principle of federal and state anti-discrimination law.

In an email Friday morning, a company spokesperson said, “Arconic does not generally comment on ongoing 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 Designer Gilbert Baker, a Vietnam veteran, was commissioned to create the flag by then San Francisco County Supervisor 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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