ALBANY, Ore. – An Oregon man who says he was fired from his construction job for refusing to attend Christian Bible study is appealing to a higher power: the court.
In a lawsuit filed this month, Ryan Coleman, 34, says he didn’t find out about the weekly Bible study requirement until after Joel Dahl of Albany-based Dahled Up Construction hired him as a painter in late 2017, OregonLive reports.
He says he went along with it for about six months before telling Dahl, “It’s just not my thing.” Dahl’s response, per Coleman, “He said, ‘well, I’m going to have to replace you.” That was in April, KEZI reports.
Now, Coleman is seeking $800,000—$50,000 in lost earnings and $750,000 for “severe emotional distress, anguish, humiliation, anger, shame, and anxiety,” per the lawsuit’sironically titled “prayer for relief.”
Dahl’s attorney, accusing Coleman of seeking “unjustified financial gain,” concedes that Dahled Up employees are required to go to Bible study. But it’s legal, he argues, because they’re still on the clock when they attend.
Colman’s attorney disagrees: “This is so illegal,” she says, adding that only religious organizations could have such a requirement.
Dahl, who admits to past legal problems, says he’s a “second-chance employer,” with OregonLive noting that “God is a big part of Joel Dahl’s life.”