- The Washington Times - Friday, September 11, 2015

A Chicago-area woman has accused Office Depot of religious discrimination after employees refused to make copies of an anti-Planned Parenthood flier, citing company policy that prohibits the “persecution of people who support abortion rights.”

Maria Goldstein, 42, said she was told to use the self-serve copy machines after employees at the Office Depot in Schaumburg refused to fulfill her order of 500 copies of “A Prayer for the Conversion of Planned Parenthood,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

The handout, published by The Daily Caller, included statistics about abortion in the U.S. and at Planned Parenthood. Ms. Goldstein said the intention of the prayer, composed by the Rev. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, is to ask for conversion.

“The conversion of the staff, employees, everybody who is part of this at Planned Parenthood. It means they will recognize life has dignity and that it is valuable and not a commodity to be bought and sold,” she told the Tribune.

Ms. Goldstein said making 500 copies herself would have been an inconvenience, so she left Office Depot and found a printing shop in Des Plaines to fulfill her order.

“I feel discriminated against,” she said.

Karen Denning, a spokeswoman for Office Depot, told The Tribune that company policy prohibits “the copying of any type of material that advocates any form of racial or religious discrimination or the persecution of certain groups of people. It also prohibits copying any type of copyrighted material.”

“The flier contained material that advocates the persecution of people who support abortion rights,” Ms. Denning said.

Thomas Olp, a lawyer for the Chicago-based Thomas More Society, a public interest law group that represents Ms. Goldstein, sent a letter Thursday to Office Depot CEO Roland Smith asking the company to reconsider its policy and fill Ms. Goldstein’s copy order. Mr. Olp said if Office Depot does not comply they will file a legal complaint.

“This seems crazy,” Mr. Olp told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “To say that a prayer that calls for conversion and understanding and enlightenment is persecution, to call that persecution to me is the height of intolerance.

“The best resolution would be that they would say ‘This was unjust. You were discriminated against because of your religion’ and then admit this was wrong,” Ms. Goldstein told The Tribune. “I’d appreciate them printing the flier. The statistics are still valid and the prayer is still valid.”

Office Depot’s assistant general counsel Robert Amicone responded to the complaint Friday in a letter to Mr. Olp, saying the company disagreed that it discriminated against Ms. Goldstein’s religion.

Mr. Amicone explained that the company took particular issue with passages in the religious flier that discussed “the killing of children in the womb” and “the grisly trade in baby body parts,” and similar strong language “presumably condemning those who perform or obtain abortions.”

“Indeed, the prayer characterizes those individuals as ‘evil,’ and it advocates for the closure of the ‘death camps in our midst.’ It is this type of language that led to the decision to refuse your client’s copying request,” Office Depot said.

The letter goes on to explain that there are two provisions within company policy that are applicable in this dispute: The first prohibits the copying of “graphic material,” which can include descriptions of dead or dismembered bodies, and the second prohibits the copying of “hate material” that advocates for the “persecution of groups of people, regardless of the reason.”

“To be clear, Office Depot’s position is that the above-quoted language falls within the definition of ‘graphic material’ and/or ‘hate material,’ making the refusal to print the flier appropriate,” the letter said.


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