‘Joel Dahl hopes to do more with his company than just construction work…’
(Michael Barnes, Liberty Headlines) In what has become a high-profile attack on religious liberty in the workplace, a disgruntled employee of a Christian-run construction company in Oregon is accusing his former boss of discrimination—and he’s looking for a payout.
Joel Dahl, owner and sole officer of Albany-based Dahled Up Construction, is being sued for “aiding and abetting” his company’s alleged discrimination against former worker Ryan Coleman. The Washington Post, among other national media outlets, has taken notice.
Dahl is a former prison inmate who says he turned his life around after embracing Christianity. He maintains that it is critically important that his company is run in accordance with Christian principles. The company’s logo even includes a cross.
Dahl also employs former inmates who, like him, want to turn their lives around but struggle to find work due to the stigma of being an ex-con. As part of his mission to help others, Dahl encourages company workers to attend a weekly Bible study—and that’s the crux of Coleman’s lawsuit.
Dahled Up hires workers without regard to religion and pays them while they attend the Bible studies, which occur during normal working hours. The point, Dahl says, is to help people who were once in his position to make positive changes in their lives.
Many employees attend the weekly studies willingly, but the practice came under fire when Coleman sued the company—and later Dahl himself—and alleged that he was required to attend.
Pacific Justice Institute, a conservative legal defense organization, recently took Dahl’s case—which at a minimum, if he loses, has the risk to put Dahled Up out of business and many others out of work.
“Joel Dahl hopes to do more with his company than just construction work,” said Brad Dacus, the Institute’s president.
“The Supreme Court has repeatedly held in recent years that Christian business owners are, for the most part, free to operate their companies in accordance with their faith’s principles,” Dacus said.
“We hope to defend Mr. Dahl’s right to do the same, especially given the well-documented power of Christianity to transform even the vilest of offenders into model citizens,” he added.