Woman Wins $21 Million Lawsuit After Being Fired Because She Wanted to Go to Church on Sundays

Miami, FL — Marie Jean Pierre, a 60-year old Black woman from Miami, has been awarded a $21 million settlement from her employer who refused to let her have Sundays off so that she could attend church! “I love God,” Pierre told NBC. “No work on Sunday, because Sunday I honor God.”

 Marie Jean Pierre

Pierre previously worked as a dishwasher at the Conrad Hotel for more than 10 years since 2006. She said she notified her employer from the start that she is a member of the Soldiers of Christ Church, a Catholic missionary group that helps the poor, and that she needed Sundays off from work.

However, in 2015, her employer ignored her request and still scheduled her to work on Sundays. Her co-workers agreed to trade shifts with her for a number of weeks until she was required to really fill in her scheduled shift. When missed Sundays work for six weeks straight to continue attending church, she was fired.

Pierre filed a lawsuit claiming that the Conrad Hotel, which was managed by Hilton at the time, had violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which protects workers from discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex or national origin.

A federal jury has recently ruled in her favor and ordered the hotel to pay Pierre $21 million in damages, plus $35,000 in back wages and $500,000 for emotional pain and mental anguish.

Due to a cap on punitive damage awards in federal court, Pierre wouldn’t be able to get the whole $21 million but she is expected to receive at least $500,000. Her lawyer, Marc Brumer, still hopes the verdict becomes a benchmark for others.

“This was not about money. This was about sending a message to other corporations whether big or small,” he said. “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.”

Meanwhile, the company issued a statement through a spokeswoman which said, “We are very disappointed by the jury’s verdict, and don’t believe that it is supported by the facts of this case or the law. We intend to appeal, and demonstrate that the Conrad Miami was and remains a welcoming place for all guests and employees.”

Watch the local news coverage below:

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