UPDATE: Office Depot has issued an apology to pro-life activist Maria Goldstein.
The Pro-Life Action League has often turned to Office Depot to print larger signs or posters for a pro-life event or protest, as well as to make volume copies of flyers. Maria Goldstein, founder and director of Northwest Families for Life, based in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, has done the same.
But on August 20, Maria submitted an order online to Office Depot for 500 copies of a fact sheet on Planned Parenthood, which also included a prayer for the conversion of those who work for Planned Parenthood, written by Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life. (That fact sheet/prayer is here [PDF].)
Violation of Corporate Policy?
Maria was stunned to get a call from Office Depot later that day with the message that they could not process her request because it was a violation of their corporate policy. She asked what that policy might be that would preclude printing a prayer and a statement of facts taken directly from Planned Parenthood’s own annual report.
No one at the Schaumburg, Illinois branch of Office Depot was able to give Maria any details and her calls to corporate headquarters were not returned. So Maria turned to the Thomas More Society, which contacted Office Depot. Rather than return an attorney’s call, a woman named Diane from Office Depot called Maria at that point and explained that “if it makes employees feel uncomfortable,” they don’t have to print something. And she stated that they are “working on” a policy for situations like this.
So it appears that Maria was discriminated against merely because her plea for prayers made some employee uncomfortable. Neither Maria nor the Thomas More Society find that acceptable.
Bad Publicity for Office Depot and Planned Parenthood
As Office Depot did not seem to want to discuss the situation with Maria’s attorneys, the Thomas More Society issued a press release. And the media, it turns out, is very much interested in this type of discrimination. The Chicago Tribune ran a feature story on the matter today. WGN-TV interviewed Maria and Thomas More Society attorney Tom Olp last night (see above).
Now, Fox News and a myriad of other media outlets want to pursue this story, especially now that Office Depot has doubled down: Today, an attorney for Office Depot responded [PDF] to Thomas More Society claiming that the language in the fact sheet/prayer “falls within [its] definition of ‘graphic material’ and/or ‘hate material,’ making the refusal to print the flyer appropriate.”
There is surely a lot more to come as this story develops, but one thing is certain: We can be sure the Thomas More Society isn’t going to let Office Depot off the hook.