Lawsuit: Macy's worker fired over Catholic faith

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Javier Chavez loved his job at Macy’s.

The devout Roman Catholic was hired in 1990 as a door guard. A few years later he was promoted to store detective – and he eventually became a senior store detective at the department store’s location in Flushing, Queens.

But after more than 26 years on the job, Mr. Chavez was fired – allegedly over an incident involving a man who identifies as a woman using the ladies room.

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Mr. Chavez has filed an official complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights claiming he was terminated because of his religious beliefs.

Here’s the back story:

In May, Mr. Chavez responded to a call about a distraught female customer and her daughter. They were afraid to enter the ladies room because a transgender person was using the facilities.

A security guard under his command told the transgender individual to leave – but the person refused.

“He later exited the bathroom holding hands with his female companion and he declared that he ‘was a female,’ which was not true,” Mr. Chavez wrote in his complaint.

The transgender customer complained to store management and raised quite a ruckus, according to the complaint.

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At some point an assistant store manager informed Chavez that men who identify as women are allowed to use the ladies room.

“I advised her that this was against my religion and contrary to the Bible,” Chavez wrote. “I also mentioned that I would not like my young daughters to be in the bathroom with a male inside.”

At no time did Mr. Chavez tell Macy’s he would not enforce the policy. He simply stated his religious beliefs.

A few days after the incident, he was summoned to human resources for more probing. He asked HR for a copy of the new policy concerning restroom usage.

But instead of providing the policy, he was suspended and later terminated.

“After my employer learned that I was a practicing Catholic, with religious concerns about this policy, I was terminated because of my religion,” he wrote.

Macy’s refused to discuss the specifics of Mr. Chavez’s case – but they did tell me that “Macy’s does not make employment decisions based upon religious beliefs or religions practices of applicants or employees.”

They also provided me with some context – and that context should alarm every Bible-believing Christian who works for the company.

“Given that Macy’s employs and serves people of many different religions, ethnicities and cultures, Macy’s expects its employees to at all times treat fellow employees and customers in a non-discriminatory and respectful manner in accordance with our company policies.”

To be clear, we only have one side of the story here, folks.

But that side of the story is being told by a 26-year, veteran employee of the department store.

Bill Donohue, of the Catholic League, said it’s a clear case of religious discrimination.

“The most basic religious right is the right to believe; if conscience rights can be vitiated, the First Amendment means nothing,” Donohue said. “Macy’s has no legal, or moral grounds to stand on.”

It’s certainly disturbing to think that Macy’s could fire an employee for simply having a religious belief they find to be offensive.

“For merely holding beliefs that are contrary to the store’s policy, Chavez was fired,” Donohue said. “This is what totalitarian regimes do, not American commercial establishments.”