Fired For Being An Atheist

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[Employment]
An investigator for the Maine Human Rights Commission has found reasonable grounds for a manager's claim that he was fired from his job at DeCoster farms because he's an atheist.

Cacy Cantwell says Austin "Jack" DeCoster told him before he was fired that they might have to "part ways" because Cantwell didn't believe in God.

Cantwell was working for Maine Contract Farming, a DeCoster subsidiary where he was hired as a manager in 2003. DeCoster is the region's largest brown egg producer.

The official reason for Cantwell's firing in November 2006 was "poor job performance," but the commission's investigator, Barbara Lelli, said Cantwell received no written warnings about performance problems.

Cantwell, who was provided housing he shared with a non-married partner, two of his children and three of her children, said he was criticized by DeCoster, a devout Christian, who didn't approve of the living arrangement.

On another occasion, DeCoster brought up God in a conversation, and Cantwell responded by saying he was an atheist and didn't believe in God.

Cantwell told the investigator that DeCoster put his hand on his shoulder and told him: "I can't have someone like you here. We might need to part ways."

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