By all accounts, Charles Rhoads, Jr. was an excellent worker. After 30-plus years of employment at SPX Flow Technology’s site in Rochester, New York, he was an experienced man who’d been promoted and enjoyed excellent performance reviews. But that didn’t stop SPX from unceremoniously firing him last year — after he expressed opposition to faux marriage.
The problems began on April 20, 2015, when the dutiful Rhoads approached a subordinate, named Craig Tyler, who was engaging in a non-business conversation after his break time had ended — Tyler and another worker were on a phone viewing pictures from the latter’s faux wedding. Instead of simply resuming work, however, Tyler asked Rhoads if he wanted to see the pictures. After Rhoads declined, he says that Tyler “accused me of personally disliking the employee who was in a gay marriage.” Defending himself, Rhoads, a believing Christian, stated that the worker was a “likable person but marriage was from God and not from the politics of man,” reports Rhoads. He again expressed his disinterest in seeing the pictures, and Tyler departed in a huff.
That should have been the end of it. Instead, something transpired that Rhoads never could imagine. As he stated in his exclusive interview with The New American:
My interaction with my employee [Tyler] was on a Monday. On that Friday at 3 pm I was told I had an employee complaint for abuse of power and they would investigate and allow me the opportunity to respond. At that time they collected my company badge, iPhone, laptop, keys and walked me out the door in front of my team. I was told not to come to work on Monday. I received an overnight letter stating my termination. All this when I had just received my yearly performance evaluation. I was rated three out of a possible four, [four] being the highest, as well as a pay for performance of five percent when the budget was three percent.
To top it off, SPX never did give Rhoads the promised opportunity to respond. When he inquired about it, he was told, reports Rhoads, that “the corporate lawyers have already approved it [the firing], so there would be no meeting for me. None of my bosses were in the room when I was let go. Corporate arrived a week latter and went through my office for two days and interviewed the hand-selected employees to speak with.” And that was that.
Except that Rhoads has now filed a wrongful-termination lawsuit, represented pro bono by upstate N.Y. attorney Philip Vecchio. Citing how SPX’s actions are contrary to First Amendment court rulings, Mr. Vecchio told The New American, “It’s patently unfair on the face of it to discharge an employee after 30 years because of opposition to same-sex marriage.… Basically, the employer has to make reasonable accommodations for sincerely held religious beliefs…. There is definitely case law on this.”