Schenectady County

Catholic says Wal-Mart fired him for wanting Sundays off

A Rensselaer County man is suing Wal-Mart Stores Inc. because he said the retail giant fired him bec

A Rensselaer County man is suing Wal-Mart Stores Inc. because he said the retail giant fired him because the devout Roman Catholic did not want to work Sundays.

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To read the complete lawsuit, click here.

John F. Kennedy, 45, claims he was fired from the Sam’s Club store in Latham because of his faith and is seeking $1 million in the suit, which was filed in state Supreme Court in Albany. He is being represented by attorney John Aretakis, a frequent critic of the Roman Catholic church who has filed several lawsuits against the Albany Diocese on behalf of people claiming they were sexually abused by priests.

Kennedy claims he was fired after working there about a year after repeatedly complaining about being assigned to work Sundays. He said Wal-Mart officials were aware when they hired him in March 2007 that he did not want to work Sundays because of his faith.

Wal-Mart claimed it fired Kennedy for misconduct, he admitted in the lawsuit, but the state Division of Human Rights upheld his claim of religious discrimination.

“They knew I was a Roman Catholic and I believed I was fired because I wanted Sundays off,” said Kennedy, a lifelong parishioner at St. Michael’s Church in Troy who remains unemployed.

Kennedy said he attends Mass every Sunday and helps care for an elderly parishioner who depends on him for rides. After church, he visits graves and has dinner with his elderly parents.

He said he was forced to work on three Sundays in December 2007 during Advent, which he described as the second most holy time of the Christian year.

“I explained to my supervisor, ‘As long as you respect my wishes and I have my Sundays off, it would be fine,'” Kennedy explained. “I got the indication if I didn’t work it would be a refusal to work.”

Aretakis acknowledged the irony of representing Kennedy, but pointed out that his past disputes have been with church officials, not the faith itself.

“Personally for me this is an interesting opportunity to show that I have nothing but the highest regard for the Catholic church and I always have,” Aretakis said. “My criticisms are with Bishop Hubbard and how he has handled the clergy abuse crisis.”

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