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Hotel Dishwasher Awarded $21 Million For Being Forced To Work Sundays

Openness and honesty can save so much grief in life, especially in the work place. When you're on good terms with your manager, and keep the lines of communication clear and frank, you can work well together.

At least, that's how it's supposed to be. One worker at a hotel in Miami thought she had a good relationship with her manager, and she had been open and honest for a long time. But when the rules were switched up on her, she found herself without a job. However, it looks like she got justice in the end.

Marie Jean Pierre was upfront with her employers when she was hired: she didn't work Sundays.

NBC 6 Miami

"I love God," she told NBC 6 Miami. "No work on Sunday, because Sunday I honor God." And for seven years, the devout Christian from Haiti faithfully filled her shifts washing dishes at the Conrad Miami with only a single hitch.

On one occasion in 2009, she was scheduled to work a Sunday.

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So she told her employers that she would need to resign. Her managers opted to work around her needs for Sundays off after that — at least, until 2015.

Starting that year, her manager added her to the Sunday schedule.

And, for a while, co-workers switched their shifts with her so she could have Sundays off. However, her manager eventually ended that practice and demanded that she start working Sundays.

Well, Marie stuck to her convictions and didn't show up for her Sunday shifts, missing six of them before she was fired.

Facebook | (TBC) The Bethel Church

So, citing the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which protects workers from discrimination based on religion, race, sex, or national origin, she filed a $50 million lawsuit.

In court, Marie argued that her religious rights had been infringed after years of accommodation.

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"Defendant retaliated against Plaintiff by, among other things, creating a hostile work environment for Plaintiff, reprimanding Plaintiff for her religious beliefs, and terminating Plaintiff," her complaint read. The jury agreed.

And in their decision, they sent a message about infringing on religious beliefs, awarding Marie $21.5 million in damages.

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The jury also saw fit to award her $35,000 in back wages and $500,000 for emotional pain and mental anguish. However, she won't receive the full amount due to a cap on punitive damage awards in federal court. NBC Miami reports that her attorneys believe "she will receive at least $500,000."

However, Marie's attorneys also say that it was never about the money.

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"They accommodated her for seven years, and they easily could have accommodated her, but instead of doing that, they set her up for absenteeism and threw her out," attorney Marc Brumer said. "She's a soldier of Christ. She was doing this for all the other workers who are being discriminated against."

Hilton disputed the verdict and signaled an intention to appeal it.

Facebook | Conrad Miami

'We were very disappointed by the jury’s verdict, and don’t believe that it is supported by the facts of this case or the law," told USA Today. "During Ms. Pierre’s ten years with the hotel, multiple concessions were made to accommodate her personal and religious commitments. We intend to appeal, and demonstrate that the Conrad Miami was and remains a welcoming place for all guests and employees."

h/t USA Today, NBC 6 Miami