By JOHN FORTMEYER
PORTLAND – The new president of Oregon Right to Life received national attention several weeks ago not due to her pro-life activity itself, but because of what appears to have resulted from it.
Harmony Daws lost her job with a local cleaning company, and claims it was because of her faith-motivated activity to save the unborn.
And while she believes that she could challenge the firing from a legal standpoint, she has decided not to do so.
“Business owners should have more freedom, not less,” she said. “Even if what was done to me was illegal, I would not want to take action against the business owner, because I do support at-will employment,” said Daws.
But at the same time, Daws sees how there likely could be a double-standard in the whole situation.
“If the situation was reversed, if the business owner was a Christian pro-lifer firing someone for volunteering for Planned Parenthood, I have no doubt the business ow-ner would be prosecuted for unfair treatment,”she said.
Daws’ firing was covered in both local media and in national media, including The Associated Press and the conservative site The Blaze. The AP tried repeatedly to reach the owner of the cleaning company, Sparkling Palaces, but stated that she did not return their calls.
Since the firing, Daws and one of her sisters, Verity Grant, have launched their own company, Soleil Clean (soleilclean.com).
Daws had spent four years with her previous employer. As operations manager, she oversaw the daily operations and was responsible for hiring, purchasing, customer service to existing clients, scheduling and all other aspects of service delivery. Daws said that during her time of service, the company went from from struggling to make payroll for three employees, to a company with 14 employees, projecting half a million dollars in 2016 revenue.
Daws said her friendly relationship with the company’s owner suddenly changed after Daws mentioned her recent acceptance of the presidency of Oregon Right to Life. Another of Daws’ sisters, Liberty Pike, is the organization’s communications director. According to Daws, she and her siblings were raised to care deeply about respecting unborn life — a topic which she considers the greatest human rights issue of today.
Daws mentioned her new post to her employer, who she said initially seemed supportive but soon afterward became more distant. Daws said the owner at that time likely learned more about Daws’ pro-life positions by reading her blog and the Oregon Right to Life website.
Daws said the company owner then told her that the business was “changing direction” and that Daws could not share her religious or political beliefs, nor could she tell other employees that she was praying for them.
Looking back, Daws denies that she discussed her political views with her co-workers and said she had mentioned her Oregon Right to Life appointment to the company owner only because it had come up in their conversation as friends.
Employees who had worked under Daws’ supervision represented a wide variety of beliefs and lifestyles, including a Satanist, a Wiccan, a lesbian, and atheists as well. Daws said she never turned away an employee or client over religious or political beliefs. After her firing, several of the employees told Daws that they had never felt discriminated by her in any way and that Daws had shown love to all of them.
A graduate of Portland State University, where she majored in English, Daws said she learned there what it is like to take stands that are politically unpopular.
“It was so isolating,” she said. “But it made me feel more determined that I will hold to those beliefs.”
She has absolutely no regrets about her involvement with Oregon Right to Life and said that by operating her own business she now won’t have to hide her faith nor her political activity.
Daws added that she was encouraged by support she received from others after her firing was publicized nationally.
“I did hear from a lot of people who had similar experiences or who appreciated that I was willing to pay the price,” she said.