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Please read the following.
Radio Shack and Religious Intolerance
by Elrond D'Arsenault
What if you went to work everyday and when you arrived (or sometime during the day) your employer made some nasty remark concerning your religion?
How would you feel?
What would you do?
How long would you let it go on?
I worked for Radio Shack for over three years. I am not overtly Pagan. On the other hand, I have never hidden my religion either. I wear a rather unobtrusive Pentacle ring on my right hand, and other than that, the only way people learn of my religion is when other Pagan folk come by to see me. Two of the managers I worked under had a problem with my belief system. The first was Gary B. Here are a few incidents of religious harassment that Gary was involved in:
November 15 1993: My wife made a birthday cake for me, which had some symbols of my religion on it. She thought it would be a nice gesture if I brought the leftover cake to work and shared it with my co-workers there. Everyone at Radio Shack enjoyed the cake, except for Gary, who refused to eat a piece because there was a pentacle on it (the symbol of my pagan faith). He said he believed it was "satanic".
March 20, 1994: Gary refused to let me have the day off, even though he had approved it a week before, because of inventory. I told him it was a religious holiday, and that I was needed for services. He told me that "...your religion is not officially recognized by anyone." I informed him at that time that even the United States military recognized Paganism as a legitimate faith, and that chaplains were assigned to take care of the needs of Pagan members of the armed forces. He still would not allow me the day off, but did allow me to leave early, when I threatened legal action. This also occurred on May 1, 1994, and July 31st 1994.
During Gary B.'s time as manager (October 1993 to December 1994) he made repeated use of the term "warlock" in reference to me. He did this in front of customers and co-workers. The term "warlock", I pointed out to him, is a derogatory term, as much so as "nigger" would be to an African-American, or "kike" to a Jew.
To Gary's credit, our relationship was otherwise amenable.
But when Reuben V. took over as manager I was confronted for the first time with real religious bigotry. It began with a conversation in December of 1994, a few days after Reuben took over. In the back room of the store, he told me of his great faith in Jesus Christ, and how he believed that love was answer to almost all problems. I told him that I had great respect for people with faith, and that I too, am a man of faith, and that I felt that the Gods had a great influence on m e. He asked me what I meant by "Gods" and I told him that I am a Pagan, and that I believe in many gods. He said, "You mean you worship the Devil?" I informed him that the Devil is a part of Christianity, and not a part of Paganism. The next day, as an aside, Reuben asked me, "How's Satan treating you today?" And thus began a daily barrage of comments about my religion. Most of the remarks were innocuous, some quite hateful. I started documenting the worst of them, including these incidents:
February 4, 1995: My circle was meeting on this day for their celebration of Candlemas. I had cleared getting off early with Reuben the week before, but Reuben decided that I should stay until closing. I reminded him that he had agreed to let me leave early that night but he persisted. Finally I told him that I was going to a religious celebration, and could not arrive late. He said, "Arseneau, I don't want you bringing any demons into the store." I told him that since demons were not a part of my religion he had nothing to fear. Ultimately, he let me go, saying: "God's going to punish you if you don't stop that stuff, Arseneau."
February 27, 1995: This morning Reuben told me that he had prayed for my soul in church the day before , "....we've got to get you out of that paganism," he said.
March 9, 1995: Reuben told me that I was going to go to hell, that God, "did not like what I was doing."
These are but the tip of the iceberg; a few vignettes in a daily assault on my person. Reuben obviously can't tolerate anyone who doesn't share his belief system. I am fairly thick skinned, having survived a childhood and early adult hood where I had few friends. I learned at an early age to just be who I am, since no one was going to like me anyway. So I can take quite a bit of abuse. But I decided at this point that I could do so no longer, and so I resigned after about three months of this, stating in writing the reason as "Reuben's continuous disparaging remarks concerning my religion." To his credit, he apologized in writing in a memo which dismissed me on the spot, though I had given three weeks notice, and was counting on paychecks there from.
I filed a complaint with the California Dept. of Fair Employment; their investigation went on for over a year. They reported to me that Radio Shack is denying everything (surprise!). That I had failed to make use of their own grievance procedure: A long distance phone number in Ft. Worth TX, manned by a voice mail system 8 hours per day (CST). This number is available for employees to use on their own time (no personal calls allowed from work).
This information is available in an obscure portion of the employee manual, which you are allowed to read when you are first hired. They have you sign a paper saying you have seen it, and then you never see it again. Since it had been three years since I had seen it last, there is little wonder that I had not remembered the grievance hotline. By contrast, they have an 800 number for reporting instances of employee theft. It's manned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by a living person. They want you to use it as soon as you observe anything going on (you can even call from the store while on company time!).
A huge poster informing you of this graces the wall of every back room in every Radio Shack store. I guess this explains their priorities pretty well. Radio Shack informed the DFE people that there will be no "settlement of this complaint;" that they are totally innocent because I did not pursue it through "the proper channels." Over the years, I saw other people ignored, or at worse, fired for going through "proper channels". This did not give me a great deal of confidence in the company.
The harassment did not stop with my resignation/termination. When I tried to get parts for a Radio Shack phone I had purchased while an employee I went to see my fellow employee, now manager at the Santa Cruz store, Clyde D. He ordered the parts, which I gladly paid for, but when the warehouse sent back the wrong parts, he would do no more for me. I tried to get the parts through other channels, even writing the San Jose Mercury's "Action Line", but to no avail. Since it was my experience as an employee to know who to call to get what I needed to help a customer, I can only conclude that Clyde did this out of spite because he knew I had complained against the company.
I have withdrawn my complaint with he DFE, since their time has run out. I will now pursue this as a civil matter. This is a case of wrongful firing. Further, it is my contention that Radio Shack is negligent in their training of new managers. Gary and Reuben were both fresh out or manager training when I first worked for them . Neither of them had ever been taught that you don't question or criticize anothers religion, especially when you are in a position of authority over them.
I am asking all folk of good will who value religious freedom to join me in a boycott of all Tandy Corporation stores. This includes Radio Shack, Incredible Universe and Computer City stores. You may also wish to write Tandy Corporation and explain to them why you are boycotting them. The Snail mail address is:
John V. Roach
One Tandy Center
Fort Worth TX 76102
Website: Tandy Corp. (with links to all subsidiaries)
Tandy Media Relations (names are Email Links): Lou Ann Blaylock , Vice President - Corporate Relations, 817-878-4955 Fran McGehee - Senior Manager & Incredible Universe, 817-390-3487 Ron Trumbla - Special Projects, 817-878-4969 Tony Magoulas - Radio Shack, 817-878-4852 Mieke Henderson - Computer City, 817-347-7624 Mike Dryden - Broadcast Media, 817-878-6676
Also, if you know of an attorney who might be interested in taking on this case, give them a copy of this and ask them to call me if they are interested
WebMasters Note:Elrond D'Arsenault can be reached via email by simply clicking on his name...