Friday, March 05, 2010
The Ohio Workers’ Compensation Council was created nearly three years ago after a massive statewide scandal. The state’s insurance fund for injured workers was drained of a hefty $300 million as a result of being sunk into risky investments like Beanie Babies, collectable rare coins, and other financial gambles. In the wake of this financial disaster, the state of Ohio created the panel to assist lawmakers in policing the insurance fund.
In an ironic and equally scandalous twist, the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Council itself is facing embarrassing allegations of religious discrimination, wrongful termination, age discrimination and retaliation. The whirlwind of lawsuits all center on the council’s director, Virginia McInerney, who allegedly pushed her own religious beliefs on her staff members before firing them. Three female ex-employees allege that McInerney held mandatory prayer sessions, distributed religious literature and CDs to her staff, and subsequently fired them after tensions around the religious subject matter in the office erupted. The former workers state in separate letters that McInerney offered each of them severance agreements that would also release her from any legal claims. All three of the employees refused to sign.
Virginia McInerney has publicly denied the claims while refusing to discuss the nature of the firings in any depth. The three fired women had all been hired within the past year and appear to have been model employees with no previous disciplinary charges having been brought against them. Each of the women claim that McInerney gave them copies of the “God at Work” CD collection and required them to take notes on the religious material and share those notes with other staff members. Furthermore, office employees of different faiths started to feel uncomfortable with the office prayer policy. Others were asked to do tasks to prevent acts of Satan. The three women are all seeking to change the status of their terminations from firings to a settlements.