Anti-LGBTQ+ Christian who sued for $10m after being fired just had his appeal thrown out

The US District Court

An employee who was fired for refusing to take part in LGBTQ+ inclusivity training has lost an application to appeal his dismissal.

A New York federal appeals court confirmed on Tuesday (14 March) that former account clerk Raymond Zdunski’s attempt to challenge his former employer’s decision was rejected.

Education administration company Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES (E2CC) fired Zdunski in 2018 after seven years at the organisation, when he refused to attend the mandatory training session.

He likened the dismissal to “unlawful religious discrimination” in his appeal, which demanded reinstatement and $10 million in damages.

“It just seems like the country is against the Christian way of life,” he told Buffalo News. “We’re not allowed to practice our way of life but anyone else can, it seems.”

In response, BOCES maintained that his refusal to attend mandatory training sessions planned by the company was the reason he was let go, rather than it being about his religious beliefs.

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It had planned the session following a meeting with a transgender employee, who recommended sensitivity training to help prevent discrimination in the workplace.

Zdunski then refused to attend the first training session in February 2018, which he was not sanctioned for.

But after HR officials told him and other staff members that a mandatory session must be completed in May, he contacted his employers to express his objections.

He reportedly told members of the company directors that they should schedule a training session relating to the persecution of Christians.

Additionally, he said that, as a devout Christian, his beliefs “are dictated to him by the holy scripture” and that the session would amount to “indoctrination”.

An ‘unsupported assumption’

According to a court ruling against Zdunski in 2022, the company was legally required to ensure all employees had attended the training.

In his ruling, US District Court judge Geoffrey Crawford explained that Zdunski was sacked due to repeated refusal to adhere to the company’s policy.

“[Zdunski’s] unsupported assumption that [BOCES] believed him to be ‘bigoted‘ due to his religious beliefs is insufficient to support an inference of discrimination,” Crawford wrote.

“No facts in the record support a finding that Mr Zdunski was terminated because of his religion.”