- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Facing religious discrimination charges, an Ohio teachers union has agreed to send a member's dues to a charity because the union's social advocacy violates her religious beliefs.
The agreement comes a year after Kathleen Klamut, of Mogadore, filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the Ohio Education Association and its local affiliate for refusing to accommodate her religious objections.
A practicing Christian, Mrs. Klamut objected to subsidizing what she claimed was the union's pro-abortion agenda. Mrs. Klamut asked the group to redirect her dues to the American Cancer Society her right under the law last fall when she began working as a school psychologist in the Ravenna City School District.
At that time, OEA officials refused to accommodate her.
"No one should be forced to support an agenda they find morally objectionable," said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the Virginia-based National Right to Work Foundation, which represented Mrs. Klamut.
"For the past five years, Kathleen Klamut has faced tremendous adversity simply because she wanted to do what she loves without compromising her faith."
OEA officials, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, said in a Nov. 15 letter that Mrs. Klamut did not follow the procedure to have her dues redirected.
"Although we are granting your requested accommodation, we are not acknowledging the sincerity of your professed beliefs," OEA's general counsel Chris Lopez wrote in the letter. "Nor are we acknowledging that the law requires us to grant this accommodation. We also note your significant role in prolonging the resolution of your request for an accommodation."
The OEA is a state affiliate of the National Education Association, the country's largest teachers union, representing 2.4 million members.
Earlier this year, the EEOC found that the national and Ohio unions had discriminated against religious objectors. The EEOC ruled that the unions' policy unlawfully places a burden on teachers, and that they need only file a one-time objection to paying dues. It also found that the OEA took too long to process teachers' requests to be classified as religious objectors.
Another Ohio teacher, Dennis Robey, filed charges against the NEA and its state and local affiliates after the unions refused to honor his religious objection to supporting groups he viewed as promoting pro-abortion and pro-homosexuality positions.
Last month, the unions agreed to accommodate Mr. Robey's requests and handle similar requests from members who have differences on religious grounds in a "timely manner."


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