Fairbanks store owner fined for human rights violation

April 20, 2011 

FAIRBANKS -- A Fairbanks store owner must pay more than $76,000 for creating a hostile work environment by disparaging an employee's Catholic religion, the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights ordered.

Paul Kopf, owner of the Goldstream General Store, was fined Monday after an administrative law judge found in November that he violated the state's human rights law in comments made to store manager Lynn Dowler, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Wednesday.

Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey Friedman found that Kopf had made Dowler uncomfortable by frequently talking about his religion and making disparaging comments about Catholics.

Dowler and the store's three other employees quit their jobs after Kopf wrote a memo in May 2009 saying he planned to continue talking to his employees about his deeply-held Christian beliefs.

Another employee has since started her own human rights complaint against Kopf regarding his treatment of religion in the store.

The payments to Dowler are based on the salary she would have made if she were managing the store, minus money she has since earned at a lower-paying job. She also was awarded an additional payment from Kopf in lieu of reinstatement to her old position.

Kopf must attend three hours of training about the laws preventing discrimination as part of the judgment.

He did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press for comment on Wednesday.

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Information from: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com

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