Biden Sacks Attorney Who Defended Religious Freedom of Employees

Sharon Fast Gustafson, an attorney within the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been fired by the President Joe Biden. Gustafson is known for defending religious freedom and got the nomination as EEOC general counsel by former president Donald Trump in March 2018. In August 2019, she was confirmed by the Senate. Her tenure was expected to expire in August 2023. However, she got fired on March 5 after she stated in her letter to the White House that she does not have any intentions to resign.

Under her reign, EEOC filed a lawsuit on behalf of two employees against Kroger who stated that they were fired after they refused to wear LGBT-themed aprons. According to the press release by EEOC at that time, the women see the emblem as an endorsement for LGBTQ values. Hence, wearing it goes against their religious beliefs.

Biden demanded Gustafson’s resignation, but she refused and sent a letter to him dated March 5, 2021. She got sacked the same day. In the letter, she stated that the request of Biden had no basis for her resignation and she has no knowledge of which of his advisors influenced such a decision. 

However, she added that Biden should have it in mind that there are people who are against her advocacy on behalf of employees who pass through religious discrimination and on behalf of constitutional and statutory protections for religious entities. Also, she included in the letter that she would like to maintain her work on the EEOC’s mission to avoid and provide solutions to illegal employment.

“I have confidently given this advice to countless embattled clients over the last 25 years: hold your head high, do your best work, and do not resign under pressure. In solidarity with them, I will follow that advice. Civil rights is a bipartisan issue, and all the statutes I enforce as General Counsel were passed with bipartisan support,” she said in the letter.

Furthermore, Gustafson stated that when Biden was inaugurated, her work which promoted religious liberty was taken off from the EEOC website. She added that if she resigns from her office, it would mean that she had succumbed to the suppression her work fights against.

A commissioner of the EEOC appointed by Trump, Andrea R. Lucas, has condemned Gustafson’s sack. She affirmed that she is afraid Biden will not consider fighting religious discrimination in his administration. She equally sees the White House action against the independent agency as worrisome. 

Lucas tweeted. “In his inaugural address, the President said, ‘The right to dissent peaceably, within the guardrails of our Republic, is perhaps our nation’s greatest strength.’ That, however, does not seem to apply to Sharon Gustafson. And if such a principle does not apply to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – the very agency charged with preventing and remedying discrimination and retaliation – where else does it apply?”

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