I'll be the first to say that while there a number of "stealerships" still around, there are good dealers that are trying to do the right thing. I never thought that would involve forcing employees into religious meetings; a former sales manager claims he was fired because he wouldn't pray.

According to a report in the New Jersey Law Journal, a complaint says that Joseph Haughey was fired from his position as sales manager at CarSense after objecting to the owners' demands that he participate in Bible study, prayer meetings and other outwardly religious activities in the workplace.

Haughey is suing CarSense; Eugene Niconovich, company president; and Francis McGowan, owner and chief executive officer.

Haughey says in his complaint that Niconovich, McGowan and other general managers kept Bibles on their desks and would spend part of the work day reading the Bible. And on Tuesday nights, Niconovich would lead a Bible study group at the Mount Holly dealership, the suit claims. Employee meetings were routinely opened with a prayer and general managers were expected to take turns saying a prayer to open each management meeting.

Haughey claims that in one meeting McGowan began crying uncontrollably and telling Haughey he "could not wait for that glorious day" when he would die and "spend eternity in heaven with Jesus." Haughey, stunned, said nothing, which seemed to disturb McGowan. Three weeks after that meeting, Niconovich fired Haughey, the suit claims.

According to the suit, the plaintiff was told that he was being fired for "raising his voice" at employees, but his termination came soon after he told management that he could not participate in the religious activity.

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The suit also alleges that "Niconovich told Haughey his performance and management of employees was outstanding but he was not acting in the leadership capacity expected of him because he needed to be more outwardly religious."

Haughey is suing under New Jersey's Conscientious Employee Protection Act and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. He seeks past and future unpaid wages and damages for pain and suffering.

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