An Office Depot in Chicago’s northwest suburbs is being accused of religious discrimination for refusing to print flyers containing a prayer published by Father Frank Pavone and Planned Parenthood’s own published statistics.
Thursday, Chicago’s Thomas More Society sent a demand letter to Office Depot, challenging the company’s refusal to print religious flyers for customer Maria Goldstein at its Schaumburg, Illinois location as discrimination and a violation of the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance.
“Anyone can order printing at Office Depot,” said Thomas Olp, Thomas More Society special counsel attorney.
“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.”
Office Depot corporate headquarters is standing behind the store’s refusal to print.
Karen Denning, a spokeswoman for Office Depot, told the Chicago Tribune that company policy prohibits “the copying of any type of material that advocates any form of racial or religious discrimination or the persecution of certain groups of people. It also prohibits copying any type of copyrighted material.”
“The flier contained material that advocates the persecution of people who support abortion rights,” Denning said.
On August 20, 2015, Maria Goldstein placed her order for printing at the Office Depot in Schaumburg, Illinois. The item to be printed was a flyer that stated several statistics from Planned Parenthood’s 2013-2014 annual report, mentioned the abortion provider’s harvesting of fetal body parts, and included a prayer for the conversion of Planned Parenthood.
Ms. Goldstein was told by an Office Depot employee that the printing of her flyer was “restricted by corporate policy” and that her order would not be filled. Ms. Goldstein contacted the Office of the Chairman multiple times to discuss the company’s refusal to fill her order. Diane Demma from the Office of the Chairman stood up for the Office Depot employees’ refusal to print Ms. Goldstein’s flyer and offered no other alternatives.
“Office Depot is discriminating against me based on my religion,” said Maria Goldstein. “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.”
Thomas More Society’s demand letter states that Office Depot must cease its unlawful refusal to service Ms. Goldstein’s copying order or the Society will act to secure Ms. Goldstein’s rights before the Cook County Human Rights Commission, the Illinois Department of Human Rights, or other appropriate venue.
UPDATED 7:12 p.m. ET —
After this story appeared on the Drudge Report, Office Depot contacted The American Mirror with the following statement:
Office Depot has contacted Ms. Goldsteins’s representative to explain that the store associate’s decision to decline a print order was in no way 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.
Office Depot has long maintained a policy of not allowing associates to print items that violate copyright laws, advocate persecution of any group or contain graphic material.
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.
“We sincerely apologize to Ms. Goldstein for her experience and our initial reaction was not at all related to her religious beliefs. We invite her to return to Office Depot if she still wishes to print the flyer,” said Roland Smith, chairman and chief executive officer, Office Depot.
Office Depot will continue to have policies that guide the refusal to reproduce material that is protected under copyright, contains graphic material or advocates the persecution of any groups of people, regardless of the reason. In addition, all customers are free to use the self-service copy machines in our stores without being subject to the policy.