Christian man loses appeal after being fired for refusing to attend mandatory LGBTQ training session

A federal appellate court has tossed out the appeal of a former Christian account clerk named Raymond Zdunski in western New York who was terminated for refusing to attend a mandatory LGBTQ training session in 2018 that he said conflicted with his religious beliefs.

Zdunski worked for Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES for seven years. He called the termination “unlawful religious discrimination.” After being fired, he sued for reinstatement, back pay, and $10 million in damages.

“The Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) is a public organization that was created by the New York State Legislature in 1948 to provide shared educational programs and services to school districts within the state,” according to Fox News.

Zdunski contended that the LGBTQ training and makeup session were “aimed at changing his religious beliefs about gender and sexuality.” He went on to assert in the lawsuit that the training “would have caused him to violate the religious teachings to which he adheres.” He was denied a religious accommodation by BOCES.

His lawsuit was dismissed in 2022 by District Court Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford. The judge ruled that his claims were “unsupported” and sided with BOCES that he was fired for refusing to attend the training. BOCES claims the training is meant to help prevent discrimination in the workplace.

“Plaintiff’s unsupported assumption that Defendants believe him to be ‘bigoted’ due to his religious beliefs is insufficient to support an inference of discrimination,” Crawford remarked in his ruling. “In sum, no facts in the record support a finding that Mr. Zdunski was terminated because of his religion; rather, the evidence in the record supports Defendants’ position that his termination was due to repeatedly refusing to attend a mandatory employee training.”

In a blow to the Christian and his faith, the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals backed BOCES this week, stating in its opinion that Zdunksi had failed to provide “sufficient evidence” to back his claims.

“It just seems like the country is against the Christian way of life, and it’s for everything else,” Zdunski commented. “We’re not allowed to practice our way of life but anyone else can, it seems.”

“NY is a liberal state, judges were voted in or appointed by liberals and I’m sure the judges want to keep their jobs,” he noted, according to the Daily Caller. “Scripture tells us that we are blessed to be persecuted for His name sake. NY isn’t a place to fight for Christians to be free to live out their lifestyles. The best we can hope for is that the lives we lead, our actions, as true followers of Jesus Christ reflect just that.”

According to a statement by David O’Rourke, Ph.D., the District Superintendent and Chief Executive Officer for Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES that was given to Fox News Digital, Zdunski was fired for “insubordination.”

Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES is committed to providing educational and employment opportunities in an environment free from unlawful discrimination, including harassment and intimidation. The plaintiff in this matter was terminated for insubordination after he repeatedly refused directives to attend a mandatory cultural competency training program that was designed to facilitate a safe environment for both students and staff consistent with Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES obligations under New York State and Federal laws. We agree with the decisions of both the United States District Court and the Court of Appeals, and remain committed to fostering a safe and supportive environment for all students and staff.


Kristina S. Heuser, Zdunski’s attorney, stood fast claiming that her client’s rights were violated “for no other reason than his refusal to be indoctrinated with anti-biblical teaching.”

“Though the lower courts did not find in his favor, we are not deterred and will seek redress from the US Supreme Court,” she declared, according to The Buffalo News.

“We are very disappointed that the Second Circuit decided the matter incorrectly,” Heuser stated on the matter. “This country was founded upon and for religious freedom, but these days people of faith – particularly Christian faith – are among the most discriminated against in our nation. Mr. Zdunski sought a religious accommodation to avoid a training his employer was requiring aimed at teaching ‘cultural sensitivity’ towards transgender persons.”

“Mr. Zdunski was an account clerk,” she added. “He worked on spreadsheets in a cubicle. The training was not even remotely related to the requirements of his job. The Left will stop at nothing to force their ideology upon everyone, including stripping people of their livelihood if they do not submit to their beliefs. Mr. Zdunksi refused to violate his sincerely held religious beliefs by submitting to teaching that contradicts what Scripture teaches, which is his absolute right under prevailing federal law. The Court’s ruling was clearly erroneous and we intend to petition the United States Supreme Court to hear Mr. Zdunski’s case.”

“Plainly stated, because Ray Zdunski will not affirm the notion that God makes mistakes when he creates male and female persons, the federal courts in this state have held that his employer was justified in terminating his employment,” Heuser told the Daily Caller. “On the contrary, this termination was in clear violation of well-established law and we will appeal this case to the United States Supreme Court.”

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