A federal appellate court has upheld the termination of Raymond Zdunski, who was fired from his job at a school district in 2018 for refusing to attend a mandatory workplace LGBTQ training.
According to The Buffalo News, Zdunski argued that the training was “aimed at changing his religious beliefs about gender and sexuality” and went against his Christian beliefs.
However, the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) denied Zdunski’s request for religious accommodations.
Zdunski sought reinstatement, back pay, and $10 million in damages in a lawsuit, but District Court Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford dismissed the case a year ago.
The Manhattan-based 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with that decision on Monday, backing BOCES for terminating Zdunski.
Both judges dismissed Zdunski’s claims of “unlawful religious discrimination” and supported BOCES, who argued that Zdunski was fired for repeatedly refusing to complete the mandatory training program, designed to create a safe environment for students and staff.
David O’Rourke, the district superintendent and CEO of Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES, reiterated that Zdunski was not fired because of his religious beliefs but because he refused to attend the mandatory training program.
Zdunski had worked at the BOCES central business office in Fredonia as an account clerk for about seven years, earning $32,000 annually.
He was promoted to senior account clerk a week before being fired.
Zdunski requested a mandatory training session concerning the persecution of Christians after refusing to participate in the LGBTQ training session.
However, Crawford noted in last year’s court ruling that state law requires BOCES to provide annual anti-discrimination trainings for all employees to maintain a discrimination-free and harassment-free environment.
Zdunski’s lawyer, Kristina S. Heuser, said his rights were violated “for no other reason than his refusal to be indoctrinated with anti-biblical teaching.”
Despite the lower courts’ rulings, Heuser plans to seek redress from the US Supreme Court.