by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A federal judge ruled that North Carolina wrongfully forced a magistrate to resign over her religious beliefs.
Gayle Myrick left her position as a magistrate because of her religious objections to performing gay marriages. In the wake of the Obergefell decision that struck down such marriage bans, as well as the controversy over Kentucky County clerk Kim Davis, who was jailed for refusing to perform such services, Myrick approached her supervisor and asked to adjust her duties to void any conflict. Her immediate supervisor intended to shift Myrick’s schedule because marriage ceremonies constituted only a small portion of her duties. The state, however, overruled such a measure, leading Myrick to resign and forfeit her retirement benefits.
Myrick filed a discrimination complaint against the state to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, arguing that the state unlawfully forced her to resign without making an effort to work around her protected beliefs. Administrative law judge Michael J. Devine found that the state “failed to provide an accommodation … and failed to provide sufficient evidence that granting accommodation would be an undue burden.” He found that the environment led Myrick to deliver an involuntary resignation. …
… The state was ordered to provide Myrick back pay from the date of her termination, as well as cover her $115,000 attorney fees in the case. Myrick will receive more than $173,000 in compensation as part of the settlement, as well as about $37,000 in contributions to cover for her retirement. Under the terms of the agreement, the state denied liability and guilt in connection to the discrimination claim.