ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - Bombarded with religious messages, claims he was pressured to go to church -- an employee of Albuquerque's Water Utility Authority is the victor in a lawsuit with a hefty payout because of the actions of his boss.
The payout is more than a quarter-of-a-million dollars. A federal jury agrees the utility manager used religion to violate one of his employee's civil rights.
James Chavez says his supervisor, John Stomp forced Christianity on him over and over again making the workplace uncomfortable and nearly impossible for Chavez to receive a promotion.
"He thought it was acceptable for him to impose his religious views on me," Chavez said. "He offered me a Bible that he inscribed, gave me frequent admonishments why I should accept God into my life. He chastised me."
Chavez has worked for the company for 12 years and filed the suit in 2005. It was settled just last month.
A jury awarded Chavez $300,000 for damages accrued from religious discrimination, money that comes out of taxpayers and customers' pockets.
"The Water Authority is financially liable," Chavez explained. "This translates into rate-payer money like you and me, and we're paying to defend unethical conduct of an employee."
Chavez is outraged the utility would use taxpayer funds to fight what he said is egregious conduct. His lawyer Santiago Juarez agrees.
But it is a case that could cost even more because ABCWUA is considering an appeal.
When the suit was filed Stomp was a project supervisor, he is currently the chief operating officer.
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