“Bus driver who refused to take women to Planned Parenthood gets $21K in settlement”

by Walter Olson on May 2, 2011

When an employee decides he doesn’t feel like fulfilling his job requirements, you might need to accommodate him, or be prepared to pay. [Steven Kreytak, Austin American-Statesman]

{ 16 comments }

1 Hugo S. Cunningham 05.02.11 at 11:11 am

Management may have decided there was serious financial risk of facing a jury packed with religious-right zealots (aka “Weimar-Republicans”). I doubt if authorities in a socially-liberal state would have caved so easily.

2 William Nuesslein 05.02.11 at 11:14 am

Full humanity at conception is a Religious view and I am sick of having right-to-life people imposing their religious view on us.

We humans as a species have a sex drive consistent with the high mortality of our past, losing 40% to 60% of children prior to age 5 not so long ago. Since good sewers, vaccinations, and good diets, death before age 5 is less than 1%. Without birth control, including abortion, the world would be in a worse mess than it is today.

3 wfjag 05.02.11 at 11:48 am

Hugo, you should read the article before showing what “assume” spells out. It was a cost of defense settlement — the settlement cost less than going to trial. Further, there’s no mention of an reinstatement. It was a dollars and cents decision, of the type any civil defense attorney has discussed with clients numerous times.

“Full humanity at conception is a Religious view and I am sick of having right-to-life people imposing their religious view on us.”

“Life Unworthy of Life” is also a religious view. Given that I’m getting older and am not racially pure in any way, I’d rather take my chances with the “right to life people”. Things didn’t work out so well when those whose views were founded on eugenics and other (pseudo) science were in charge.

That said, while I’m no fan of PP and don’t think it should be supported by tax dollars, IMO this suit shows how wrong the laws have gone in this area. PP is a legal business and the people using its services have every right to do so. The transportation provided is, like such transportation services provided to the disabled and persons qualifying for public assistance across the US, there to take its clients to receive the services to which they are entitled by law to receive. If the driver objects to some of those services for whatever reason, he shouldn’t have taken the job. If his religious views prevent him from taking people to PP clinics, then he should quit. If he doesn’t quit, then he isn’t willing to do the job and should be fired for cause. Cases like this ought to be dismissed as failing to state a cause of action and sanctions imposed for frivilous litigation. But, until the standards for such motions are changed so than any outrageous possible cause of action that may be speculated to exist will prevent dismissal or sanctions, costs of defense settlements are part of the costs of doing business (or government).

4 Anonymous Attorney 05.02.11 at 12:40 pm

Liberals forged these bullets. They’ll have no complaint if conservatives use them.

5 antiredistributionist 05.02.11 at 1:31 pm

wfjag and AA are both right

6 Jerryskids 05.02.11 at 2:12 pm

As far as I can tell, the settlement (which did not include reinstatement) was purely based on the cost of defending this particular suit but did not include the cost of likely future suits. Once you establish the precedent of paying out nominal amounts on the grounds that defending the suit is more costly than the settlement, aren’t you issuing an open invitation to every silly suit as long as the settlement is only a (relatively) few dollars? Isn’t this exactly what has been going on in California for some time now as regards ADA suits? Would it not be possible for somebody to file a class-action suit on behalf of taxpayers within the CARTS area against the commissioners (and the attorneys who advised them to settle) for misuse of taxpayer money and see whether or not they might be offered an out-of-court settlement?

7 Ron Miller 05.02.11 at 3:13 pm

I don’t know where conservative stand on this. On one level, they hate Planned Parenthood (at least some of their activities). On the other, they think businesses and municipalities ought to be able to fire whoever then want when ever then want (except for carefully delineated bad cause).

This driver is taking a principled stand. I absolutely respect that. I also respect the right of businesses to fire people for taking principled stands that don’t jive with the businesses principles.

8 D 05.02.11 at 6:39 pm

I noticed that the supervisor’s first impulse was to fire the guy. She had no thought of transferring him to another route. Frankly, her response was belligerent. Reading between the lines, she felt that her principles were under attack; she had power, so she wielded it. Voila, law suit.
If CARTS had tried to work something out this would have turned out much differently. Coping skills, folks.

9 gitarcarver 05.02.11 at 9:25 pm

D,

I never would have thought of transferring the guy to another route either. I would have gone through the standard steps when an employee is being insubordinate and then at the very least suspended him.

While you notice the actions of the supervisor, I notice the actions of the driver. There is no way that he knew what the women were doing going to Planned Parenthood. It is his assumption that they were going there for an abortion that conflicted with his so called beliefs.

If a woman got onto the bus and wanted to go to a drug store, would he be within his rights to not take the woman because she might be going to get the “morning after” pill?

This lawsuit was settled because of the cost of litigation, not because the driver was right. That is a shame.

10 bob neal 05.03.11 at 4:29 am

The first commenter apparently doesn’t know the political makeup of Austin – the most liberal city in Texas.

11 Ed 05.03.11 at 5:58 am

Well, I share some of the driver’s stated convictions. As such, I probably would not have transported them, either.

HOWEVER

I would not have expected to keep my job, nor would I have sued. A conviction isn’t very convicting if you have nothing to lose by sticking to it.

12 jb 05.03.11 at 9:28 am

Ed,
I am curious what your job is. It seems to me that lots of jobs require helping people do things that might be against one’s principles.

13 D 05.03.11 at 10:58 am

The actions of the bus driver had already been discussed at length, gitarcarver. If what one has to say does not improve the silence…

14 Ed 05.03.11 at 1:23 pm

jb,
Why does it matter?

But to ease your curiosity, I am an instrument technician. I repair and maintain control systems and transmitters. Specifically, at an electrical generation facility.

So, stretch that to whatever length you like.

15 jb 05.03.11 at 2:52 pm

Ed,
I am just curious. I am studying to be an accountant, and I expect to work for all kinds of companies whose practices I approve of and disapprove of over the course of my career. Perhaps I will have the flexibility to choose who I work for eventually, but it just boggles my mind that people like this bus driver, and the muslim cab drivers who refuse to pick up drunk people, take their religious beliefs to such an extent.

16 robert 05.03.11 at 4:04 pm

The driver should have taken a principled stand and found another job on his own.

I love stories like this because they make people expose their inconsistency. Does a company have a right to hire and fire anyone at any time for any reason? Most conservatives, I guess, would say “yes.”

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