Macy's has fired an employee because he is a practicing Catholic. The case is now before the New York State Division of Human Rights.
In May, Javier Chavez, senior store detective at the Macy's store in Flushing, New York, received a phone call stating that a male had entered the ladies room with a female companion. A female customer, and her daughter, were afraid to enter because of the male's presence. A security employee who reports to Chavez advised the man to leave and use the men's room. He left claiming to be a female. He then complained to store officials that he was asked to leave.
Chavez was subsequently told by an Assistant Store Manager that certain males can use the ladies restroom. This was news to him. A few days later, an assistant security manager told him that transgender persons can use the bathroom of their choice.
He said he had just become aware of this policy, stating that it was contrary to his religion and the Bible. But he hastened to say that he would nonetheless enforce Macy's policy.
Macy's would not leave this alone, and this is where it crossed the line.
Chavez was then summoned to meet with the Human Resources Manager, who suspended him. He was later terminated.
"After my employer learned that I was a practicing Catholic, with religious concerns about this policy," Chavez says in his formal complaint, "I was terminated because of my religion, in violation of the New York State Human Rights Law."
The most basic religious right is the right to believe; if conscience rights can be vitiated, the First Amendment means nothing. Macy's has no legal, or moral, grounds to stand on.
For merely holding beliefs that are contrary to the store's policy, Chavez was fired. This is what totalitarian regimes do, not American commercial establishments.
Bill Donohue is President and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation's largest Catholic civil rights organization. He was awarded his Ph.D. in sociology from New York University and is the author of six books and many articles.