2014

EEOC Reconsiders Religious Liberty Claim Of Former Phillipsburg ISD School Teacher Liberty Institute Encouraged That the Religious Discrimination Charge of Its Client, Walt Tutka, Will Receive Proper EEOC Review

PHILLIPSBURG, N.J., June 25, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Walt Tutka, the former Phillipsburg School District school teacher whom his attorneys at Liberty Institute believe was fired because he's a member of a religious organization that distributes Bibles, received a letter of reconsideration from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  The EEOC's letter comes in response to a complaint sent by Liberty Institute last week, asking the EEOC to reconsider its dismissal of Tutka's religious discrimination charge because the EEOC dismissed the charge prior to reviewing the additional information it asked Mr. Tutka to provide. To review the EEOC'S latest letter and Liberty Institute's letter online, visit: http://www.libertyinstitute.org/document.doc?id=89 and http://www.libertyinstitute.org/document.doc?id=86.

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Phillipsburg School District in New Jersey suspended and eventually terminated Tutka from his position after he handed a student a Bible in October 2012.

"The EEOC did the right thing by reopening its investigation and we are hopeful Walt will receive fair consideration of his claim," said Hiram Sasser, Director of Litigation for Liberty Institute.

Mr. Tutka said, "I am thrilled that the EEOC has changed its mind about reviewing my case and look forward to a successful resolution."

Among the evidence the EEOC did not consider was an email from Phillipsburg Middle School Assistant Principal John Stillo indicating the school district had an issue with the well-known religious group for distributing Bibles across the world, Gideons International. "It has been brought to the administration's attention that Gideon's may be near our campus to distribute literature to our students," Stillo wrote in a memo to the school's staff. "Please make sure they DO NOT step foot onto our campus at anytime. There will be added police and security presence at dismissal."

On April 10, Mr. Tutka filed a charge of religious discrimination with EEOC relating to his termination by Phillipsburg School District. On April 15, the EEOC asked Mr. Tutka to fill out a questionnaire and requested he provide the EEOC with additional information, giving him 30 days to comply.  On May 14, Mr. Tutka hand delivered the report to the EEOC Newark Area Office, one day before the 30-day deadline. Just a short time later, Mr. Tutka received a letter from Amparo Soto, Acting Director of the EEOC Newark Area Office, dated May 10 – five days before the 30-day deadline – informing him that his charge had been dismissed due to lack of information.  

On January 14, the Philipsburg School District terminated substitute teacher Walt Tutka after he handed a Bible to a student. Mr. Tutka told a student in line, "The first shall be last and the last shall be first." When the student repeatedly asked Mr. Tutka where the phrase was from, he pulled out his pocket Bible and showed the student the text. The student proceeded to state that he did not own a Bible. Mr. Tutka gave the student his own copy on Oct. 15, 2012, and his last day to substitute in Phillipsburg School District was three days later.

Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches and throughout the public arena. Liberty's vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our Founding Fathers. For information, visit www.LibertyInstitute.org.

SOURCE Liberty Institute



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