Office Depot in Schaumburg Accused of Religious Discrimination

A suburban Chicago woman has accused Office Depot of discriminating against her when employees at a store said they wouldn’t make copies of an anti-abortion prayer because it violated company policy.

Maria Goldstein attempted to print 500 copies of a “religious flyer” at a Schaumburg Office Depot but said employees refused to complete her order, according to a demand letter sent to Office Depot by the Thomas More Society.

The alleged incident happened on Aug. 20 and the item Goldstein tried to print included several statistics from Planned Parenthood’s 2013-14 annual report along with a prayer for “the conversion of Planned Parenthood,” according to the letter.

“Anyone can order printing at Office Depot,” Thomas Olp, Thomas More Society special counsel attorney, said in a statement. “But because Ms. Goldstein’s flyers had religious content—namely calling for prayer for Planned Parenthood—Office Depot refused to complete her order. This is a blatant violation of the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance, which forbids public businesses from discriminating based on religion.”

The demand letter says Office Depot must “cease its unlawful refusal to service Ms. Goldstein’s copying order.” Olp said if the company refuses, he will bring the issue before the Cook County Human Rights Commission or the Illinois Department of Human Rights.

“Office Depot is discriminating against me based on my religion,” Goldstein said in a statement. “If the store can pick and choose what orders it fills based on religious content, it is refusing to treat people of faith equally. In America where we value freedom of religion, this is simply unacceptable.”

Office Depot said in a statement to NBC Chicago Friday that the company has contacted a representative of Goldstein to explain that the decision was not based on religious beliefs, “but on the fact that it contained certain words and phrases that could be construed as graphic or advocates the persecution of groups of people, which is a violation of the company’s copy and print policy.”

“Upon a more detailed review, we have determined that the content of Ms. Goldstein’s flyer is not a clear violation of the company’s policy,” the company added. “We invite her to return to Office Depot if she still wishes to print the flyer.”

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