Denver Worker Wins $150K in Diversity Pledge Suit

April 15, 2004 ( - A man who claimed his former employer couldn't legally require him to "value" other workers, including homosexuals, because of his Christian beliefs has won $146,269 after a court fight over the issue.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, made the award to Albert Buonanno as payment from AT&T Broadband for his lost wages, lost 401(k) contributions, emotional distress and interest, the Denver Post reported.

Buonanno, 47, argued that the Denver-based cable giant – since bought by Comcast Corp., – said he could tolerate religions contrary to Christianity but not value them or hold them in esteem. In January 2001, AT&T Broadband officials told Buonanno, a two-year employee that he had to ink the values agreement or face being fired. The diversity statement was part of a new AT&T Broadband employee handbook at the time.

When Buonanno balked, the company immediately fired him from his job as a dispatcher and quota specialist. “As a Christian, I love and appreciate all people regardless of their lifestyle,” Buonanno told the Post. “But I cannot value homosexuality and any different religious beliefs. That was one of my concerns.”

Buonanno took AT&T Broadband to court under the U.S. Civil Rights Act, which protects employees from discrimination based on race, sex, religious beliefs, national ancestry or color.

In her ruling, Krieger claimed that AT&T could have worked out the situation short of showing Buonanno the door.

“The court accepts AT&T’s contention that allowing employees to strike piecemeal portions of the handbook of certification could pose an undue hardship on its business, making the uniform application of company policies much more difficult,” Krieger wrote. “Nevertheless, had AT&T gathered more information about Buonanno’s concerns before terminating his employment, it may have discovered that … it was possible to relieve that conflict with a reasonable accommodation.”

The ruling is at .