Woman’s suit claims religious bias
Daily Herald, Nov. 17, 2002
By Dave Orrick, Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer
A suburban Wiccan is accusing Mary Kay Cosmetics of discriminating against her at work.
Elizabeth Cornman of Hanover Park, a self-described Wiccan and Pagan, alleges that the Texas-based company discriminated against her because of her religious beliefs, according to a federal lawsuit filed Friday in Chicago.
No one at Mary Kay could be reached for comment Friday evening or Saturday.
The suit seeks $300,000 for emotional distress and an unspecified amount of back pay from wages lost after the alleged discrimination forced her on a medical leave of absence.
Noting that Wiccans don’t subscribe to witchery or Satanism, the lawsuit contends that Mary Kay managers tried to prevent the customer service representative from practicing her beliefs, which include worshipping the Pagan gods Oden, Thor and Freya and the Wiccan worship of air, water, earth and fire.
The suit contends that company managers removed from her desk a sand garden in which she drew runes, religious signs that gave her a guiding principle for the day.
Cornman’s beliefs became known to her superiors in early 2002, when, as the suit states, she began to “come out of the closet” about her Wiccan ways.
After that, she was disciplined for relatively harmless conduct, such as closing a copy machine door too hard and taking the Lord’s name in vain, according to the suit.
The suit also alleges Cornman was retaliated against – via poor job reviews – after she filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission, which determined she had a right to sue the cosmetic company under federal anti-employer discrimination laws.
Neither Cornman nor her lawyer could be reached for comment Saturday.