Courtney Rogers worked at Compass Group USA, Inc., where she was responsible for hiring, firing and other duties as an HR officer. Her boss asked her and a few colleagues to create a training program that would guarantee participants a promotion. But her attorney, Robert Weisenberger – in association with Thomas More Society – says there was only one problem.
"It was basically a training program that involved a guaranteed promotion upon completion of the program – and she realized that it was only going to be open to people of color and women, and [that] white males were excluded from participating in the program," he explains.
Rogers asked for an accommodation based on her sincerely held religious belief that all people, regardless of gender, are created equal. And according to the legal group, she was assured there would be no retaliation for expressing those beliefs and could be reassigned as accommodation.
"The goal of the program was to – and this is a quote from my client, what she heard her supervisor say – 'right the wrongs of the last 100 years,'" says Weisenberger. "They told her things like, 'This is the direction the world is going,' 'Jump on the train or get run over,' and 'We're not here to appease the old white man.'"
But Compass Group soon fired Rogers for "unsatisfactory performance" – despite consistently receiving positive performance from both her supervisors and colleagues prior to that.
Weisenberger says under both federal and state law, employers cannot choose a person for promotion, or exclude certain groups based on race or sex.
The Thomas More Society has filed a wrongful termination and religious discrimination lawsuit on Rogers' behalf. "Primarily, we're looking for compensatory damages for what she's lost and the distress that she's been put through as a result of this," says the attorney.
Compass Group USA, which employs more than half-a-million people worldwide, bills itself as the largest foodservice and facilities management company in the world. It has published a 104-page booklet celebrating the company's commitment to DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) over the last two decades.