A state-by-state review of court cases pertaining to workplace rights.
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Source: Bob Egelko, San Francisco
Date: January 7, 2004
Hewlett-Packard had the right to fire an employee who posted anti- gay passages from the Bible at his work cubicle in protest of the computer industry giant's diversity policy and in an effort to persuade gays to repent, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday. The court said Richard Peterson, who worked in HP's customer support division in Boise, Idaho, for more than two decades, was not a victim of religious discrimination. Instead, said the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, an employer has the right to enforce an even-handed policy against harassment and discrimination, even if certain messages are suppressed. Peterson claimed that HP, whose headquarters are in Palo Alto, unfairly singled him out for punishment while allowing other employees to display religious symbols and pro-diversity posters. But in the 3-0 ruling, Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote that Peterson had been fired "because he violated the company's harassment policy by attempting to generate a hostile and intolerant work environment'' and disobeyed managers' orders to remove the postings.