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Fired workers sue Gresham Station security firm

Supervisor accused of relentless religious proselytizing at work

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - A security kiosk at Gresham Station is the subject of a lawsuit by former employees.Four former security guards employed by G4S Secure Solutions Inc. at Gresham Station say their rights were violated when they were fired for not falling in line with their supervisor’s Christian beliefs.

The four employees — Wayne Rush Jr., Andrew Gale, Jimmy Drennan and Alphonso Nunez — filed a religious discrimination lawsuit Oct. 5 in the Multnomah County Circuit Court asking for $3.5 million in damages. The former employees claim their supervisor, Sarah Houser, created a hostile work environment by proselytizing about God, the Illuminati and the Bible.

According to the lawsuit, Houser referred to the small security kiosk on the shopping center site as “church” and hung Bible verses on the walls. She also often used the work computer to play Christian sermons and to show employees conspiracy theories about the Illuminati, referring to a group or network of shadowy groups that mastermind events to gain political power and influence.

A Bible was kept on the counter.

All four former guards said Houser played them these religiously themed videos as part of their training and warned the guards that people who don’t believe in God don’t work out at Gresham Station.

With more than 50,000 employees in the United States, G4S claims to be the world’s leading international security solutions group. The company is headquartered in Jupiter, Florida, and has an office in Portland.

G4S did not respond to requests for comment.

In one instance, Houser spent nearly three hours showing Christian videos to Rush and several more hours grilling Rush about his faith and talking to him about her religious opposition to gay marriage.

Houser explained that she wanted everyone hired at Gresham Station to be a Christian, “so they did not let demons into their church,” the lawsuit states.

Rush later shared with Houser that his future mother-in-law and fiancée’s brother are gay, and Houser replied, “Well, they are going to hell, Wayne, and that’s just the truth.”

Houser then asked the other guards to talk to Rush about his beliefs and continued pushing for employees to participate in her Christian prayer circles because they were “opening the gates for demons to enter the site.”

In June, Rush warned Houser that the Bible verse postings and other evangelizing are illegal, and Houser responded, “At this point Wayne, I don’t care if I get fired for this, because God is the truth!”

Around that time, the former employees began expressing concern they were being retaliated against because of their complaints, saying that Houser and other guards were ignoring them. On June 24, the G4S Portland branch manager told Nunez and Rush they were being removed from the Gresham Station site, and Drennan and Gale were dismissed the next day.

The complaint states the Houser’s conduct “was sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the plaintiff’s employment and create an intimidating, hostile, offensive or abusive working environment.”

The former employees say they have suffered and will continue to suffer lost income and benefits and out-of-pocket expenses. At the time of the termination, the employees were earning $11.50 per hour.

The suit also says the men suffered emotional and mental distress, degradation, embarrassment and humiliation.

The plaintiffs, represented by Dana Sullivan, of Buchanan Angeli Altschul & Sullivan LLP, are requesting a jury trial.