A devout Christian employee who was fired for posting quotes from the Bible condemning homosexuality lost an appeal in federal court yesterday.
The San Francisco-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, regarded as the nation’s most liberal, ruled Hewlett-Packard Co. did not violate the rights of Richard Peterson when it fired him for posting the verses on his desk in response to company posters featuring homosexual employees, Reuters reported.
HP displayed posters with the slogan “Diversity is Our Strength” as part of its campaign to promote a diverse work force.
Judge Stephen Reinhardt rejected Peterson’s claim he was fired for his religious beliefs, arguing the Boise, Idaho-based employee had failed to provide evidence, Reuters said.
HP said Peterson was fired for insubordination after refusing to remove the quotes when managers determined they could be viewed as offensive.
Peterson conceded one of the Scripture passages he posted, from Leviticus, was “intended to be hurtful,” according to the wire service.
It reads, in the King James version, “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”
The court said HP would have been placed under “undue hardship” to accommodate Peterson’s demands to either allow the posting of the Scriptures or have the diversity posters removed.
Reinhardt contended, according to Reuters, either option would harm the company’s efforts to “attract and retain a qualified, diverse work force, which the company reasonably views as vital to its commercial success.”