State officials have confirmed that they have settled for $225,000 a lawsuit filed by a hiring prospect who alleged a job offer was withdrawn after videos of his sermons against homosexuality and evolution surfaced.
But state officials deny the sermons had anything to do with the decision to withdraw the job offer and admit no wrongdoing. Here’s your copy of the settlement.
In 2014, Dr. Eric Walsh, a Pasadena, Cal., health department official, was about to be hired by the state Department of Public Health to run its operations in northwest Georgia.
Videos surfaced in California of sermons that Walsh had given as a Seventh Day Adventist preacher in which he spoke against homosexuality and the “Satanic belief that man evolved from lesser beings.”
But Nancy Nydam, spokewoman for the state Department of Public Health, said the issue was Walsh’s failure to report his outside employment as a pastor, and not the content of his sermons:
“Georgia Department of Public Health policy requires the disclosure and written approval of secondary employment held by its employees. Dr. Walsh was extended a conditional offer of employment by DPH, subject to passing a routine background check.
During the background check process, DPH learned Dr. Walsh failed to disclose outside employment to his previous public health employer, which also was in violation of California law.
Due to violation of both California state law and DPH policy, the offer to Dr. Walsh was rescinded. During his interview, Dr. Walsh disclosed his religious beliefs to DPH staff and indicated that he preached at his church in California. Dr. Walsh’s religious beliefs had nothing to do with the decision to withdraw the offer.”
Nonetheless, the Liberty Institute, the legal defense organization that took up the issue, is declaring victory. From the press release:
“I am grateful this trial has finally ended,” Dr. Eric Walsh says. “It’s been a long, difficult journey, but it’s worth it to have my name cleared and to ensure that all Georgia government employees know they have religious liberty.”
“This is a clear and resounding victory for religious freedom,” Jeremy Dys, Senior Counsel for First Liberty Institute and counsel for Dr. Walsh, says. “We always knew the law was on our side, so we are pleased the State of Georgia agreed to settle this case and clear Dr. Walsh’s good name.”
Last September, Walsh filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Atlanta, charging the state of Georgia with “unlawful religious discrimination” and retaliation.