Office Depot CEO Apologizes for Store Discriminating Against Pro-Life Customer
A suburban Chicago woman accused the office supply giant Office Depot of refusing to photocopy a flyer containing an anti-abortion prayer. What was the store's rationale for refusing to copy the prayer?
Last month, Maria Goldstein, 42, ordered 500 copies of "A Prayer for the Conversion of Planned Parenthood" at an Office Depot in Schaumburg to distribute at her parish the following Sunday. The handout also included statistics about abortion in the U.S. and at Planned Parenthood, a non-profit organization that provides women's and reproductive health services.
The prayer, composed by the Rev. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, an anti-abortion group, calls on God to "Bring an end to the killing of children in the womb, and bring an end to the sale of their body parts. Bring conversion to all who do this, and enlightenment to all who advocate it."
The prayer also decries "the evil that has been exposed in Planned Parenthood and in the entire abortion industry."
Karen Denning, a spokeswoman for Office Depot, said company policy prohibits "the copying of any type of material that advocates any form of racial or religious discrimination or the persecution of certain groups of people. It also prohibits copying any type of copyrighted material."
"The flier contained material that advocates the persecution of people who support abortion rights," Denning said.
But Goldstein said the goal of the weeklong prayer and fasting campaign that took place last month was not to persecute but to change hearts. The campaign came amid calls by politicians to end public funding for Planned Parenthood in response to hidden-camera videos by anti-abortion activists who accused the nonprofit organization of trafficking fetal tissue.
That excuse is giggle worthy. A prayer equals "persecuting" Planned Parenthood? Get serious.
The CEO of Office Depot apparently saw the stupidity in his employee's position and issued an apology:
"We sincerely apologize to Ms. (Maria) Goldstein for her experience and our initial reaction was not at all related to her religious beliefs," Office Depot Chairman and CEO Roland Smith, said in a statement, the Chicago Tribune reports (http://trib.in/1Kb5StR ). "We invite her to return to Office Depot if she still wishes to print the flier."
Goldstein, of Rolling Meadows, was invited to use the use the self-serve copy machines at Office Depot, Denning said. But Goldstein said that would have been an inconvenience, so she went to another shop to run her copies.
"I feel discriminated against," Goldstein said.
Thomas Olp, a lawyer for the Chicago-based Thomas More Society, a public interest law group that represents Goldstein, sent a letter Thursday to Smith, asking the company to reconsider its policy and fill Goldstein's copy order.
Goldstein told the Tribune on Friday that she hadn't had time to process the company's latest response.
"I need to take a step back and pray about it," she said.
I recognize the liability of Office Depot for printing incendiary stuff, but a prayer? And stretching the point about "persecuting" anyone because of an effort to change someone's mind on abortion is ridiculous. My guess is that the clerk at Office Depot who refused to photocopy the prayer is pro-choice and didn't like some of the references in the prayer.
They can't even claim that the prayer is discriminatory because it's non-denominational. Needless to say, Office Depot should take a second look at that policy and train employees in enforcing it.