(Meredith) – A hotel dishwasher who was fired after missing work to go to church has been awarded more than $21.5 million in a lawsuit against her former employer.
Marie Jean Pierre worked at the Conrad Miami, for nearly 10 years when her boss fired her in 2016 for "unexcused absences," according to the Sun Sentinel.
Pierre reportedly missed six Sunday shifts to attend worship services at Soldiers of Christ Church.
According to Pierre, she informed her employer at the start of her job in 2006 that she could not work on Sundays due to her religious beliefs. But in 2009, her schedule began to change.
After Pierre threatened to quit her job, the hotel accommodated her request and stopped giving her shifts on Sundays until 2015. That's when her schedule changed yet again. In response, Pierre began switching shifts with co-workers -- but her boss eventually demanded that Pierre work her own shifts. Her refusal led to her termination.
“They accommodated her for seven years, and they easily could have accommodated her [again], but instead of doing that, they set her up for absenteeism and threw her out,” her attorney Marc Brumer told NBC 6 Miami.
Pierre decided to take legal action in May of 2017, filing a lawsuit against the Conrad Miami's parent company, Park Hotels & Resorts -- formerly known as Hilton Worldwide -- for violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The jury ruled in Pierre's favor on Monday, awarding her $35,000 for lost wages, $500,000 for emotional distress and $21 million in punitive damages.
But Pierre, a 60-year-old mother of six, will likely receive far less than that amount due to a cap on punitive damages. She'll likely get around $500,000, according to the Sun Sentinel.
Still, Pierre said it's about the principle.
“I asked for $50 million, knowing that I was capped at $300,000,” Brumer told NBC News on Wednesday. “I didn’t do this for money. I did this to right the wrongs.”