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Company Sued for Firing Atheist, Agnostic Who Refused To Participate in Christian Prayer Meetings

The EEOC is suing APS based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits religious discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in the workplace. The EEOC is seeking a jury trial and financial damages for the defendants. 

Melinda C. Dugas, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District, said, “Federal law protects employees from having to choose between their sincerely held religious beliefs and their jobs. Employers who sponsor prayer meetings in the workplace have a legal obligation to accommodate employees whose personal religious or spiritual views conflict with the company’s practice.”

Aurora Pro Services Video Goes Viral in 2020

According to The Roanoke Times, McGaha was fired on Sept. 4, 2020, four days before Lackey posted the video of what appears to be Lopez firing an employee for not participating in prayer. “You don’t have to believe in God, you don’t have to like it,” he says. “You have to participate. If you don’t, that’s ok. You don’t have to work here.”

Someone off-screen says, “I won’t be participating.” Lackey confirmed to ChurchLeaders that this is McGaha, who is a friend of his. The man who is likely Lopez responds, “Well, you can’t work here.” Near the end of the video, another man voices his support for the first, saying that “Oscar has never not mentioned” in interviews that prayer is required for employees. “We’re not asking you to believe,” he says. “We’re asking you to listen to some words.” The video ends with the off-screen man agreeing to turn in his things and leave the company.

A post of the video on Reddit generated over 3,000 comments and a score of 84.5K (a score is determined by upvotes minus downvotes). The video was cross-posted on 26 Reddit communities and also found its way to Twitter and TikTok

A woman named Judy Lopez commented on Lackey’s Facebook video, saying, “Before anyone starts working at Aurora, they are told that every morning we do prayer. It is mandatory. At that moment in the interview, they are given the option to come on board or not. He made the decision to come on board knowing EXACTLY what he was getting himself into. If he didn’t want to participate, he shouldn’t have even applied.”

Oscar Lopez also commented on Lackey’s post, saying, “You guys should go to the local news and newspapers.” Lackey responded, “This doesn’t paint you in a good light lol.” Later in the comments, Lackey claims that Lopez threatened the man who took the video of the firing. 

The Roanoke Times reports that in a statement, Lopez denies that he or his company have discriminated against employees because of their religious beliefs. “No employee has ever been fired or will ever be fired for refusing to believe in Christ or for refusing to pray,” he said. “We are a Christian company that encourages prayer and encourages employees to openly express their Christian faith and disciple to one another. We believe in the power of the gospel.”

Regarding the video, Lopez said the employee “was purposely trying to get fired. I tried very hard not to fire him by stating to him that he had to participate. When you are put on the spot and you’re already upset, it is very easy to choose the wrong words.”

ChurchLeaders has reached out to Aurora Pro Services, Oscar Lopez, and Hueston Lackey and will update this article in the event of a reply. 

This article has been updated.