Last year, when Austin bus driver Edwin Graning refused to drive a woman to Planned Parenthood because he was afraid she might be getting an abortion, Graning was fired for not doing his job. The “ordained Christian minister” then filed a suit claiming he was discriminated against on the basis of his religion.
Now, rather than fight a protracted and likely expensive legal battle, the city has decided to settle and pay Graning $21,000.
Via Austin Legal:
Burnet County Commissioner Ronny Hibler, who is on the system board, said he believes Graning was rightfully fired.
“There’s a lot of things as a county commissioner that I don’t like, but I do it because it’s my job,” Hibler said.
Blanco County Commissioner Paul Granberg, who is also on the board, said he does not recall delving into the facts of the case when considering the settlement.
“The attorneys that were handling it made the decision basically,” Granberg said. “They advised the board that it would cost a lot more in attorney fees than it would cost to settle.”
Capital Area Transportation System General Manager David Marsh said because of Graning’s case, officials have begun making it clear when drivers are hired “that we have a job to do and we don’t decide what destinations are.”
Was this in fact a case of religious discrimination? Graning did not actually know that the woman was getting an abortion – she could have been going into the clinic for any number of reasons. In fact, Graning actually made up an entire backstory about calling the clinic to make sure that someone would be there when he arrived and learning that the clinic performed abortions, and he could not be a part of it, even though they never actually list abortions as one of their services.
The company has made it clear that they do not see this settlement as an admission of wrongdoing, but simply an easier fiscal response than fighting the suit. No doubt Graning and his lawyers assumed they would take that option, considering how little the settlement is in comparison to most wrongful termination and discrimination lawsuits.
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