PHOENIX — A software engineer from Queen Creek, Arizona, claimed he was the target of religious discrimination by Scottsdale-based Internet domain registrar GoDaddy.
Keith Connolly applied for a job with the company in April 2014 after a member of its talent acquisition team encouraged him.
He said he had reservations about working for GoDaddy because of its “risqué advertisements” but was eventually convinced by a recruiter.
“One of the reasons they had convinced me to go down and actually do the interview is because they had told me that their persona was changing,” Connolly said.
The software engineer said he felt that the application process was going well and he had completed several rounds of interviews; however he eventually received a generic rejection email apparently sent by the company’s recruiting team.
KTAR obtained a copy of that email and attached to the bottom of it is what Connolly believed to be a message mistakenly forwarded to him.
The message said, “About Keith he’s great for the job in skills but he looks worse for wear do we really want an obeese (sic) Christian? Is that what our new image requires of us.”
Connolly said he has battled with weight issues for many years and it is the result of a childhood tumor that kept him from being able to walk properly until he was an adult.
“It is kind of hard to have someone judge you on that level and extra difficult because this is a potential employer,” Connolly said.
In addition to the comments about his weight, Connolly said he was extremely offended by what he referred to as religious discrimination.
“I’m a very, very religious person and being Christian is a huge part of who I am,” he said “So when you’re attacking not only how I look but my faith (too) it’s a double whammy.”
The email left Connolly embarrassed and depressed, he said, but he did not inform anyone about it until recently, telling his attorney Casey Yontz.
“This is what we like to call a smoking gun,” Yontz said. “They had basically written down ‘Hey we’re not hiring you because you are an obese Christian.’ ”
Though Connolly and Yontz wanted to take legal action against GoDaddy, the case was time-barred under employment discrimination law, meaning it had passed the statute of limitations.
Yontz said he reached out to GoDaddy and asked that the company issue an apology to his client.
“They said they weren’t going to apologize and that was the end of it,” he said.
“I just wanted an apology,” Connolly said. “I wanted GoDaddy to send me a letter or an email and say, ‘Look this not how we do business, this is not what we do, this is not who we are as a company and we apologize,’ but I couldn’t even get that.”
In a statement sent to KTAR, GoDaddy said it believed the allegations were without merit and denied them. The company did not elaborate.
Connolly said his experience with GoDaddy inspired him to launch a crowdfunding campaign in an attempt to develop a general web solutions company huckstart.com.
He said he hoped it will one day directly compete against GoDaddy.
In 2009, the United States Courts for the Ninth Circuit upheld a federal court jury verdict against GoDaddy for unlawful retaliation against an employee who had been fired for complaining that he was being discriminated against because of his religion and national origin.
The judge in that case also found that GoDaddy violated federal record-keeping requirements because it did not retain employment applications relevant to the case.