Federal Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Adventist Walmart Employee — and More News Shorts

In this week’s news round-up, a federal lawsuit has been filed on behalf of an Adventist Walmart employee, a Kenyan Adventist student is suspended for refusing to take her exams on a Saturday, Tanzanian Adventists are both victims and rescuers in ferry tragedy, and an Adventist-sponsored Mamawi Atosketan Native School opens in Canada.

Federal Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of SDA Wal-Mart Employee. Edward Hedican, who is a Seventh-day Adventist and an assistant manager at a Walmart Supercenter in Hayward, Wisconsin, asked not to be scheduled from sundown on Fridays to sundown on Saturdays so he could observe the Sabbath as required by his religion. The federal government has filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart Inc., and Walmart Stores East, LP in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, alleging the company refused a religious accommodations request made by an assistant manager. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC),"The EEOC has sued Walmart in the past for this very type of religious discrimination," EEOC Chicago District regional attorney Gregory Gochanour said in a statement. Walmart denies the accusations, saying in a statement that Hedican misled it before he was hired. "We do not tolerate discrimination and we have a long-standing practice of accommodating our associates’ religious beliefs and practices," the statement says. "Being available to work weekends is essential for an assistant manager at Walmart. Mr. Hedican knew that, yet never told us he could not meet that obligation until after we offered him the job. Because he chose not to meet the assistant manager job, we rescinded the job offer. We offered to discuss other positions but Mr. Hedican declined. We have attempted to resolve the matter and we remain open to further discussions." From Legal NewsLine, “Federal government alleges Walmart denied religious accommodation to assistant manager.”

Kenyan Adventist Suspended for Refusing Sabbath Exams. A Form Two Kenyan Seventh-day Adventist student at a Kisii-based national school has been suspended after she refused to sit examinations on a Saturday on grounds that it was against her faith. The student was sent home by Nyabururu Girls High School administration to seek counseling after she explained in a letter that she refused to sit exams because it went against doctrines of the church. She said in the letter that she could not sit for the Physics and Mathematics tests because Saturday is the Sabbath set aside by God for rest. The school is Catholic-sponsored and observes Sunday as the day for worship. From Tuko, “SDA student suspended for refusing to sit exams on Saturday.”

Tanzanian Adventists Victims and Rescuers in Ferry Tragedy. Godwin Lekundayo, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Northern Tanzania region, said that 11 Adventist church members from the Ukwere district died in a ferry accident on Lake Victoria, Tanzania, on September 20, 2018. The ferry MV Nyerere capsized and has so far claimed 224 lives. According to some sources, the ferry was loaded with people and materials beyond its capacity. The Adventist Church in Tanzania participated fully, along with government officials and others, on the team handling the rescue and recovery efforts after the Lake Victoria tragedy. A special Master Guide group of Seventh-day Adventists used its own fishing boat to recover drowning victims, bringing them ashore for identification by relatives. In recognition of the Master Guides’ participation in the recovery efforts, government officials provided the Adventist group with an additional boat so they could continue to assist. Master Guides also visited and helped the bereaved relatives at the site. Some of those in need included children who have lost their parents and other close relatives in the incident. From Adventist Review, “Eleven Adventists Among the Dead as Ferry Capsizes in Tanzania.”

SDA-sponsored Mamawi Atosketan Native School Opens in Canada. Mamawi Atosketan Native School (MANS) celebrated the opening of two new buildings that offer Kindergarten to Grade 12 education, plus trades education, for up to 320 students. MANS is part of the Seventh-day Adventist school network around the globe with the philosophy of a Christ-filled environment and education. The building, which cost around $4.9 million and for which construction began three years ago, was paid for through private donations. Gary Hodder, President of the Alberta Conference (SDA) Church, said, “There was a great passion and desire to see the ministry for these young First Nations people.” The project was completed debt free. Aside from the main junior/senior high building with a modern gymnasium, kitchen, band room, classrooms, library, and the Ptarmingan Cree Cultural Centre — named for major donor, the Ptarmigan Foundation—there is a unique addition to the new school building. The Leon Ingraham Industrial Arts Centre — named in honor of the deceased educator who grew up nearby and founded industrial arts programs in Calgary — will house skilled trades education programs. This includes welding — courtesy of the financial support from the CWB Welding Foundation, a charity that supports the industry in Canada and assists in addressing the skilled trades shortage across the country — and construction through the donation from Bird Construction, Canada’s oldest publicly traded construction firm. From Ponoka News, “Trades and high school grades expanded to First Nations school north of Ponoka.”

Pam Dietrich taught English at Loma Linda Academy for 26 years and served there eight more years as the 7-12 librarian. She lives in Redlands, California.

Image Credit: SpectrumMagazine.org

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9066

I once spoke with an SDA PARL representative after his Sabbath sermon. He said their limited funds are reserved for the most important cases like this. But I told him of a situation I had run into as a (now former) member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

I belonged to a ‘traveling’ local that rarely had work, so I once found work in the South Bend local that covers Notre Dame and Andrews University. On the front page of their website was a notice to their members to fill out a questionnaire as to whether or not they belonged to the local church. It was from the local Catholic Diocese that covered Notre Dame, that was that IBEW local’s ‘bread and butter’. The reason given was that the Catholic church wanted to help serve as many of its members as possible, and needed to know if it should continue using those in the union, or in the non-union construction companies.

While I was working there on a new Catholic ‘county’ hospital, in 2008, the economy crashed and in early 2009 us few ‘travelers’ were asked to go home by the local’s job steward. I agreed to go in 2 weeks as the steward requested, but nonetheless, my work coat was strangled in effigy like a voodoo doll one day by someone not pleased with me being there, and I was paid to sit in my motel room for the rest of the week 'til Friday when they could issue a normal full paycheck without a ‘scene’, unnoticed by the ‘customer’.

Soon after that incident, a construction project came up at Andrews University, and the electrical portion was awarded to an IBEW contractor using the South Bend ‘Catholic’ local that had booted me out. So, I called the South Bend ‘hall’ and put in my name for the job. Of course as a traveler, I did not get it, even though I had an SDA history and ‘connections’. I determined not to miss the opportunity to make a point, so I called a business agent at the union hall and told him, " You notice that the electricians from your local who were given this job did not have to state what religion they belonged to . . . ?" At that the business agent tried to save face by bullying and patronizing me . . . all the proof I needed of two-faced corruption.

These little obstacles to Sabbath-free employment, or simply employment at all, are faced by some of us SDAs with no notice or help from ‘PARL’, or the Federal Government, or Spectrum . . . until now, perhaps.

way back in the day, i interviewed with Walmart, expressed an interest in their management training program. The manager asked me what days i would be available, and after hearing that on Saturdays I was not able to work, he told me that Saturday was the manager’s day off and the asst managers were ‘in charge’, prepping them for the general manager’s position. At that time I withdrew my name for the asst. managers position and was offered another position in receiving. God blessed me in my work there and should i be able to now work a ‘flexible’ work schedule would be eligible to be rehired.

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