Jewish man sues Christian school in Portland for discrimination

PORTLAND, Ore. — An applicant for a professor job claims in a lawsuit that a small private Christian liberal arts college in Portland discriminated against him by refusing to hire him because he’s Jewish.

In the lawsuit filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, Noel M. King said he applied for an adjunct professor of psychology position at Warner Pacific College in April 2014. On his application, he said, he indicated he adheres to the Hebrew faith.

Oregon law states it is not an unlawful employment practice for a bona fide church or other religious institution to prefer an applicant of one religious sect or persuasion over another.

Warner Pacific spokesman Dale Seipp said the college is grounded in the Christian scriptures and believes in mission-based hiring.

“The college prefers that its leaders and instructors actively practice the Christian faith,” Seipp said in a statement.

He also said Warner Pacific respects other religions and supports the rights of all religious entities to exercise a preference in hiring individuals who maintain the religious beliefs of the institution.

The lawsuit by King says the college did not state in its job posting that being a Christian was required or that hiring would be predicated on practicing the faith. King noted that the college stated only that it hired qualified instructors who agree to respect Christ-centered values and Christian faith.

The college knew of King’s faith throughout the four-month application process and a committee recommended that King be hired after three interviews and a teaching demonstration, according to the lawsuit.

However, King says Warner Pacific’s president Andrea Cook directed officials to reject him over his religion.

King was the only candidate who made it through the interview process, according to the suit. The college did not hire anyone else for the job.

Christopher J. Graves, King’s lawyer, said that’s discrimination because the school had a blanket policy of not hiring anyone who isn’t Christian instead of choosing one who is Christian over another who isn’t.

Preference “is a question of which one you choose, not of not choosing at all,” said Graves.

King says he missed out on applying for other jobs because Warner Pacific strung him along. He is seeking damages of $268,000.

If he had known of the intention to exclude all other religions, King says he wouldn’t have applied for a job at the college or spent months on the application process that included a declaration of faith about belief and respect for the teachings of Jesus Christ.

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