Man sues Salvation Army in religious discrimination
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
News staff writer
An Anniston man has filed a federal lawsuit against the Salvation Army, contending he was illegally passed over for a position because he is Catholic.
The suit filed on behalf of Anthony J. Clark contends he sought a social work opening in spring 2005 after already having worked for the Salvation Army for almost two years.
The Salvation Army is a charity that operates as an evangelical effort of Christians. Its Web site says its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs without discrimination.
Salvation Army officials in Anniston declined comment and referred calls to the organization's Jackson, Miss., office.
Mark Jones, a spokesman for the Salvation Army Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi divisional headquarters, said it's the organization's policy not to comment on personnel matters.
The suit said Clark sent a letter to his supervisor on May 17, expressing his interest in filling the position in Anniston. Clark, the suit said, had worked as a part-time social worker from November 2003 to December 2003. He subsequently worked full-time from January 2004 to May 2004 because of another worker's illness.
The suit said despite having three letters of recommendation, another person who had only part-time seasonal experience was hired when a full-time position came open.
The lawsuit said when Clark asked why he wasn't hired, his supervisor, Maj. Larry Hambrick, replied he was not a practicing Christian.
When asked if he was a Christian, Clark said he was a Catholic and was then informed that was why he was not selected for the position, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit said Clark complained to the Salvation Army's national headquarters, and left the organization on Aug. 19, 2005.
Birmingham lawyer John Saxon called the Salvation Army a wonderful organization that does faith-related work. But Saxon said the social work position was a non-ministerial position.
"They are not exempt from civil rights laws," Saxon said.