A federal judge on Friday dismissed a suit filed by a former member of a polygamist church who claimed he was fired from his job because he no longer adhered to the faith.
U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball ruled that Shem Fischer voluntarily quit his job as a salesman for Forestwood Co., a wooden cabinetry business based in Hilldale, headquarters to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS).
“No reasonable jury could conclude that Mr. Fischer was terminated,” Kimball wrote in an order granting a Forestwood motion to throw out the case against the company. He added that a deposition by Fischer “plainly describes a conversation in which the actual words used demand the conclusion that a resignation, not a firing, occurred.”
Rodney Parker, Forestwood’s attorney, said the company is pleased with the ruling.
In his suit, Fischer alleged he was forced out of his job because he protested the 2000 firing of a fellow employee based on the co-worker’s lack of belief in FLDS doctrine and because he himself rejected certain tenets. Two years after filing suit, Fischer amended the legal action to include FLDS governing bodies and church president Warren Jeffs.
The decision was not a complete loss for Fischer, who last year obtained default certificates that allow him to ask for monetary damages against the FLDS and Jeffs because they failed to defend themselves against the suit. Those defendants have the right to dispute the amount requested but no longer can defend themselves against the underlying allegations in the suit.
Jeffs, who has been charged in Utah and Arizona with sex abuse counts based on his alleged role in marrying minor girls to older men, has dropped out of sight and is wanted on a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
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