A Hampton man has sued his former Lincoln employer, alleging he was discriminated against based on his Christian faith.
Eric Pekney was hired by The Fort Inc. as a maintenance supervisor in November 2017 and worked at both Lincoln locations.
In a lawsuit filed this week in Lancaster County District Court, Pekney's attorney, Abby Osborn, said he told the owner, Steve Wohlfarth, during an interview when he was hired that he was uncomfortable with God's name being used in vain around him and asked that Wohlfarth and his employees not use such language around him.
Osborn said at about midnight Feb. 15, 2018, Wohlfarth visited the site of a project Pekney had been working on and left a video for him and a co-worker criticizing their performance.
She said the video contained harsh language and a pointed reference to Pekney's religious beliefs.
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When Pekney was asked to watch the video the next morning, he was upset by what he considered harassment and asked to take the rest of the day off as a personal day.
Osborn said Wohlfarth threatened to fire him if he didn't return to work immediately. Pekney said he felt he had no option but to resign.
In the lawsuit, she said The Fort was aware of Pekney's religious beliefs and practices and deliberately ignored his request that they be respected in violation of the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act and the federal Civil Rights Act. Further, she said, they retaliated against him and harassed him for it.
"Mr. Pekney was placed in a situation where he had to choose between his Christian faith and his livelihood," Osborn said Friday. "No employer should be allowed to explicitly disrespect an employee's religious beliefs; and no employee should have to choose between a job and their religion."
She said they are confident that through this process Pekney's rights will be vindicated "and it will underscore that this behavior is illegal under the law."
Pekney is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, including lost wages and reinstatement with back pay. The Fort hasn't yet filed a response to the lawsuit and an attorney was unavailable for comment.
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