Bus driver says he was fired over Planned Parenthood dispute

Isobel - posted on 07/23/2010 ( 41 moms have responded )

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Bus driver says he was fired over Planned Parenthood dispute
By Dana Ford, CNN
July 21, 2010 6:41 p.m. EDT
STORY HIGHLIGHTS

* Minister says he lost his job after he refused to "take someone to have an abortion"
* He had been assigned to drive a woman to a Planned Parenthood office
* Planned Parenthood provides a range of services, including those related to abortion

(CNN) -- A Texas bus driver has filed a lawsuit against his former employer, claiming he was fired for his religious beliefs after refusing to transport a client to a Planned Parenthood office, court documents showed Wednesday.

Edwin A. Graning worked for the Capital Area Rural Transportation System (CARTS) near Austin, Texas, for less than a year before he was let go in January. At the time, he told his supervisor that, "in good conscience, he could not take someone to have an abortion," according to the lawsuit. Graning is an ordained Christian minister.

Planned Parenthood, a health care provider that offers a range of medical services to women, including those related to abortion, often draws the ire of anti-abortion groups in the United States, where the procedure is legal but fiercely controversial.

Graning's last day of employment was the same day he refused service.

He is seeking reinstatement, back pay, and compensatory damages for pain, suffering and emotional distress.

"It's only because he voiced his religions beliefs that he was canned," Edward White III, Graning's lawyer, told CNN. "Employers have a legal responsibility to at least attempt to accommodate an employee's religious beliefs. ... CARTS clearly violated Mr. Graning's religious freedom."

White, who works for a public interest law group founded by evangelical Christian leader Pat Robertson, said CARTS sent a second driver to collect the client and took her and a friend to the Planned Parenthood office.

"While others may wish to make more of it, to CARTS this is just about our expectation that employees perform the duties they are hired for," David Marsh, general manager of CARTS, said in an e-mail message to CNN.

In addition to rides along fixed routes, CARTS offers some door-to-door service within its rural coverage area.

The lawsuit, in the U.S. District Court for western Texas, Austin Division, was filed on July 14.

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is it your right to deny somebody services if you don't agree with what they are doing? Was this persecution or a reasonable termination?

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Sharon - posted on 07/23/2010

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Your choice of religion may not impinge on my personal freedoms.

This is why satanists may not ritually kill your kids.

Sharon - posted on 07/25/2010

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IT DOESN"T FUCKING MATTER if she told him.



"I'm going to kill this kid in my belly, I don't want to raise another shitty ass brat."



Its none of his business what she does! His J-O-B is to take her ass where ever it is she is going for whatever reason.



If you can't be professional and keep your private shit from affecting your professional - then you have no reason to stay employed.



What next? I can hear the doctors now...



"I can't operate on this black man. His life isn't worth the effort."



ITS HIS JOB. End of story. I don't give a crap what she said to him or how she said it OR WHEN she said it. ITS NONE OF HIS BUSINESS.

[deleted account]

Kinda off topic, but I go to PP for my GYNO services (stupid insurance...) and I went once for my yearly exam. One of the protesters out front yelled "God loves your baby! Keep your baby because it is loved!" I went right up to that man and said "I know God loves my baby. I love her too, that's why I left her at my mother-in-law's house so I wouldn't have to subject her to your ignorant hate speech while I come for my non-abortion related apontment. Stop being such a hypocrite because God also says that 'He who is without sin shall cast the first stone'." and I walked away. In all the times I've been back to PP, I haven't seen that particular man protesting. I hope I reached him... LOL

I say "WOO HOO!!" on the driver being fired. He was refusing to do his job, so he shouldn't have the job. Did he KNOW without a reasonable doubt that the woman was going for an abortion? I don't know, but I doubt it. There are many negative feelings toward the company just because of their abortion services, but they also have a lot of good services and prgrams (PPD counseling for one... the one near me has a WONDERFUL counseling service). How is the driver to know that woman wasn't just going for an exam or counseling services? It's against his job description to refuse a job, so yes he should have been fired.

Johnny - posted on 07/23/2010

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If your religion interferes with your job, find a new job. I avoided the priesthood, despite the fact that it was my #1 listing in my high school career assessment, because I don't believe in god. If you can't do your job because of your beliefs, find a new job.

The woman who held my job previously quit due to moral issues. We sell electrical wire & cable to large scale industrial projects. Mines, oil sands, pipelines, etc. She was a hard-core environmentalist and felt that she was making money off the things she opposed. So she quit and went to work for a recycling company. Problem solved.

Krista - posted on 07/25/2010

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Besides, the doctor analogy doesn't match up. An Ob-Gyn's job is to provide reproductive health services to women. Some Ob-Gyn's choose to do the extra task of terminations, some do not.



The analogy would stick if, for example, a woman in labour showed up at the hospital, and the Ob-Gyn refused to deliver the baby because the woman wasn't married and that went against his religion.



Or when a pharmacist refuses to dispense a prescribed medication (i.e. the pill) because it goes against his morals.



A bus driver's job is to drive people places. Not to drive people to some places and not to others.



If your moral convictions is interfering with your ability to perform the MAIN function of your job, then tough tit. Either do your job, or find another job. If you're a vegan and you take on a job as a waitress but refuse to serve any dishes that are made with meat, then you either need to suck it up or find another job. This is the same thing.

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[deleted account]

Interesting article! It said that health care professionals can refuse treatment due to moral beleifs, but pharmacists cannot becasue they are not a health care professional. Ironic....huh?

Jodi - posted on 07/25/2010

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Sharon, I think your example is more that OH&S overrides all other discriminations and beliefs, and I can see why. In our business (go-kart hire track), we have refused women with burkhas because of the OH&S risk. They can scream religious discrimination all they like, we refuse to allow them on our track because the burkha poses a risk of injury or even death. Refusal to work because of OH&S concerns is valid.

Krista, on your note about the pharmacist, I actually have heard of a pharmacist who did this - refused to prescribe birth control pills because of his beliefs. I can't recall the outcome of that, I should see if I can find it!!

Sara - posted on 07/25/2010

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But in that example, Sharon, your husband felt that his personal safety was endangered. If you're at work and client/patient tells you he's going to bring a gun in and shoot you, then I think you have the right do deny services. That's the not the case in this story.

[deleted account]

Well I understand THAT Sharon! BUT, I think that is an extenuating circumstance as his very life was in danger. I don't think the two examples (your hubby vs the bus driver) exactly match up though. The driver's life certainly wasn't threatened by taking the woman to PP...

[deleted account]

OK, here's a real-life example of my husband refusing to do his job, and he was rightfully within his limits for it. Fortunately for him, his supervisor backed him up 100%.

Hubby is a mail carrier. Last year, he was attacked & bitten up by Andre, a huge mastiff mix. Prior to the dog attack, hubby filed a "potential dangerous" notice with the post office & with the dog owner. In some cases, the carrier has a right to refuse mail delivery service if they feel threatened. The police were involved in order to bring on charges to the owner. Hubby had to testify, and the prosecuter tried to convince him that the dog should be put down!! No way! He has more compassion but the reality is that this could have been extremely deadly and lethal if it were a child. Andre's owner had a huge laundry list of things he had to do in order to receive the dog back from quarantine, probably in an excess of $5000. But once the dog was returned, hubby opted to not deliver to his home for several months. The guy had to come to get his mail at the PO. As time went on, hubby has become more comfortable with the owner, and now delivers to the home. So yes, there are times that someone could refuse to perform the job and still remain employed.

Sharon - posted on 07/25/2010

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LOL we've got some freaking fanfuckingtastic examples here - why doesn't any one see the point? Oh wait... its that pesky "self entitlement" crap again.

Jodi - posted on 07/25/2010

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I must admit, I do understand Christa's point here. A lot of doctors refuse to do abortions or circumcisions because of their beliefs.



However, the ones I am aware of are generally self-employed in their own practice, which means it is their perogative. If they are employed by a hospital that performs abortions or circumcisions I don't think they have the right to refuse.

Sharon - posted on 07/25/2010

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Not all osteopaths offer bone manipulation but mine does.



Not all obgyns are highrisk pregnancy doctors. They CAN give care but its not what you really need - so you see the OBGYN who does and who carries the insurance for it.



So this obgyn doesn't perform abortions and that one does.



My vacuum shop doesn't offer service for my Riccar but a place in tucson does. Should I sue the guy down here for not fixing my vacuum?

Sharon - posted on 07/25/2010

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Holly - my last two lawyers said the same thing 'You should be a lawyer." Unfortunately - seeing assholes who kill kids and drink & drive getting off with slaps on the wrist would kill me via a bleeding ulcer.

[deleted account]

I don't care what field you are in, if you refuse to do your job (or any duties related to it) then you get fired. Plain and simple. I have NEVER heard of someone refusing to do something in their job description and NOT getting fired. I'm just curious, who have you known who refused to do their job that got to keep said job??? I want to go work for that company! gqtm...

As for the OBGYNs that don't do abortions, their job description (as an OBGYN) does NOT say they will perform abortions. That is a seperate job that some OBGYNs undertake.

In my mind this is like the story about the pharmacist who refused to fill prescriptions for birth control pills (this was a few years back). He said giving the pills went against his religion (Catholic). The pharmacist got fired because he was not doing his job, NOT because of his religion.

In this case, the bus driver was fired for not doing his job, not because of his religion. It's the same thing!

Christa - posted on 07/25/2010

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People refuse to do certain things that are technically included in their job description because it's against their values all the time. As for the doctors comment, there are OBGYN's all over that won't do abortions because it against their personal values. I guess that may be hard for someone to understand if they don't have anything they value more then a job.

[deleted account]

By the way Sharon, you should really be a laywer... you have this no shit, no nonsense attitude that i think more people need! gqtm :D

[deleted account]

100% agree with you Sharon. In ANY industry, if you refuse to do your job, you get fired. End of story.

Christa - posted on 07/25/2010

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Also, has the women testified that she never told them she was getting an abortion? Maybe she told them when she called for the ride. I talk to people all day for my job and they are CONSTANTLY telling me information I didn't need to and definitely didn't want to hear. It is quite possible she told them over the phone, we don't know.

Christa - posted on 07/25/2010

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I agree with Sara. IF this was an isolated case where he wasn't comfortable then get a different driver. What if the house was next door to an ex and he didn't want to run into that person because it's a bad situation? Haven’t there ever been circumstances where you have felt uncomfortable doing something at work and asked if someone else might be able to do it? I don't think it was too much to ask. Again with Sara, if this was one of many situations where he was causing problems then yes he probably should be let go for poor job performance, but if this was an isolated incident its a bit extreme.

[deleted account]

Hmmmm, for the same silly rationale, should I decide NOT to educate certain students because I think they are not worthy of a seat in my classroom due to their shitty attitudes and behaviors? What I disagree with my student's religious beliefs? No......I am required to perform my job duties for all students, not pick & chose who I want to receive an education. Dumbass bus driver is picking a fight where it is unwarranted.

Tara - posted on 07/25/2010

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Do your job as your employer dictates or find a new job.
It's simple. He wouldn't have been allowed to deny a ride to a person based on their skin colour, sex or age, he shouldn't be able to deny his services to a woman of child bearing age who may or may not be considering abortion.
Tara

Tracey - posted on 07/25/2010

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Yes this man should be free to practice his religion but not at the expense of other people.
If this man gets any compensation for "pain and suffering and emotional distress" I hope he will pay it to the woman concerned as her distress is probably far greater for him refusing to take her for medical attention.
If you don't like your job get a new one.

Coley - posted on 07/24/2010

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I was sent to PP to take a pregnancy test when I was signing up for insurance. Would he have refused to take me because he thought I might decide to kill my kid while I was there?

Apparently, if you have religion or morals, you shouldn't be a bus driver. Every driver has at some point provided transportation to someone who wanted to go somewhere to do something that the driver believed was wrong.

Sharon - posted on 07/24/2010

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I have a coworker like that. She can't do anything that makes her move - it goes against her religious belief of moving to much.

Seriously - she makes excuses for everything. Complains about everyone. She's at her job, does her job well, but no one likes her. If she gives management a good opportunity to fire her - they'll take it.

[deleted account]

Here's what I gather from the article. The bus company provides at home pick up when someone calls in. The lady called in. The supervisor assigned the job. This man never had contact with this woman. He simply told his supervisor his concerns, and was fired. It's common sense to have a job that fits your morals, but Constitutionally, he is within his rights. Now, if the company had him sign a contract and he was in breech of the contract, sure. But the article doesn't mention that, so we don't have that to go on. If he was lazy, never on time, refused service continually, then sure. If he was harassing someone, sure. But I think his termination was uncalled for.

Krista - posted on 07/24/2010

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It was none of the bus driver's damned business where she was going and why. It's as simple as that. I've gone to PP for pap smears when I didn't have a family doctor. But was that the business of the cabbie who drove me there? No. It was not.

Becky - posted on 07/23/2010

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I worked as a child protection worker before I had kids. I am very pro-life. However, if I had ever had a client who was facing an unplanned pregnancy and asked me for advice, I would have been legally obligated to present abortion to her as one of her options, despite my feelings about it. If she had asked me to take her for one, as hard as it would have been, I would again have been obligated to do so. That was my job. Fortunately, I was never faced with the situation because I know it would have been horrible for me. Anyways, all that to say, if he was refusing to do his job, then I do think they were within their rights to terminate him. Besides, he was transporting her to a destination, it's not like he was giving her the abortion or going in and supporting her through it, so his refusal to take her there seems a bit extreme to me.

Johnny - posted on 07/23/2010

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It didn't ask that. It simply assessed my personality traits. I chose social work instead. Seemed more fitting.

Isobel - posted on 07/23/2010

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How on earth did you end up with priesthood as number 1 when you don't believe in god?

Jessica - posted on 07/23/2010

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If your job is a PUBLIC service, and something in your religion says you can't do your job, then you need to find a job that you can practice your religion without impeeding on the rest of the publics lives.

Isobel - posted on 07/23/2010

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But his job is simply to drive a person from point A to point B...it's none of his business what she plans to do...does he also have the right to refuse to drive a woman in skimpy clothing down town? because she might be a prostitute??? What about the doctor who refused a referral based on an (inaccurate) assumption?

[deleted account]

What about freedom of religion? This man has the right to practice his religion. I would have had a problem with it if he was harassing the woman, but all he did was tell his supervisor he didn't feel comfortable doing that particular job. All the supervisor had to do was put someone else on that assignment. If there was a history of this person refusing to do his job, then yes, fire him. But that is not the case.

Isobel - posted on 07/23/2010

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Where I live, you cannot see a gynecologist without a referral from a GP...When I was pregnant with Q, I had questions about the fact that I had too much to drink a couple of times before I knew I was pregnant and wanted to talk to MY gynecologist (the doctor who treated me during my first pregnancy) and my doctor (a catholic) refused to give me a referral to MY OWN DOCTOR because he could not guarantee that he would not recommend an abortion.

He, instead, gave me a referral to a pro-life gyno even though it would take me an extra month before I could see her...he DIRECTLY told me that it was because she was severely over booked, but it was my only option.

I quickly went out and got myself (AND MY DAUGHTER) a new doctor.

Caitlin - posted on 07/23/2010

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I think they had every right to terminate him. His job is to drive someone from point A to point B, he refused to complete his job. Just as someone refusing driving a black person or whatever, it's wrong, no matter where they are going or what they are doing.

Jodi - posted on 07/23/2010

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I am just curious how he KNEW she was having an abortion if Planned Parenthood offer a range of services? Unless he knew for certain this was the reason, then it is a moot point really.

Sharon - posted on 07/23/2010

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Tough shit for him. His JOB was to give this woman a ride. His "calling" said it was wrong.

If he can't do his JOB then he needs to find a different one.

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