Joseph T. Haughey, who had years of experience selling cars and was hired at a New Jersey car dealer, is suing his former employers because he claims he was fired for his refusal to lead prayers. Haughey, a Roman Catholic, said he feels religion is a private matter, and while he heard that his boss was “quite a religious man, ” Haughey heard that Francis McGowan did not force his religion on people. Haughey said this statement couldn’t have been further from the truth.
Francis McGowan didn’t want a car sold without a Bible in the glove compartment, but his zeal did not stop there. He began every company meeting with a prayer, and when Haughey refused to lead the services when asked, he was chided for his lack of leadership abilities. While his co-workers and boss could find no fault in his ability to sell cars, and it was claimed that he was fired for raising his voice to employees twice, Haughey feels that the actual reason was his unwillingness to join in with the proselytizing that went on at work.
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Haughey said he was warned outright by a co-worker that his lack of religious devotion would cost him his job. McGowan at work once spoke about a “glorious day” when he would die and “spend eternity in Heaven with Jesus.” McGowan was shocked at Haughey’s lack of response and the latter was fired not long after. Haughey is suing for lost wages and anguish the ordeal caused him. He also says he was told to fire African Americans or at least to make sure they didn’t approach customers directly.