TABOR, Iowa (AP) — A southwest Iowa grocery store owner has been ordered to pay unemployment benefits to an employee who quit after he lectured her about the Bible.
A state judge ruled against Tyler Stille, owner of Tabor Market & Deli in Tabor, a 1,000-person city about 25 miles south of Council Bluffs, the Des Moines Register reported Wednesday.
Sherri Chafin said she quit in January 2012 after Stille preached to her about the wisdom of King Solomon and questioned her lifestyle. She filed for unemployment pay.
"He told me that I should read one psalm, or one chapter, per day, something like that," Chafin testified at an unemployment hearing.
Chafin said Stille also criticized aspects of her life.
"He asked me if I was receiving food stamps, or any welfare, or anything like that. He told me that if I was, it was unjust because I worked and I lived with my roommate — who is my boyfriend and we're not married," Chafin testified. "He was very intimidating."
Stille said his employees all knew before they were hired that faith is an integral part of his business.
"Before we hire anybody, we tell them our faith. We play Christian music in our store all the time, and we always make sure that's OK with them because that's a part of our life," Stille said.
Although they discussed the Bible, Stille said his final meeting with the employee was prompted by an inappropriate remark she made to a customer. Stille said he began the meeting by asking his wife for a Bible so he could read proverbs to Chafin, causing her to become "pretty much belligerent."
Administrative Law Judge Julie Elder sided with Chafin, finding that Stille's conduct was, at best, "inappropriate, unacceptable and unprofessional" and had created an intolerable work environment.
Reached by the Register after the judge's decision, Stille expressed frustration.
"It's just a lot of baloney and it's more of government getting involved where it shouldn't," he said. "I'm just really frustrated with the whole mess."
Chafin said she now works at an adults-only store in western Iowa called Romantix.
Asked about her current job, Chafin said, "I've never had any problems with my boss."
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