Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Forced religion and work do not mix

I believe that everyone's relationship with God (whether you call that deity God, Yahweh, Jesus, Allah, Vishnu, Buddha, something else, or nothing at all) is personal. I have no opinion on your spiritual relationship, as should you have none on mine. Thus, I get mad whenever someone tries to shove their religious beliefs down my throat. Not only do I not care, but I can guarantee that you will not change my mind. Proselytism is one small step removed from fanaticism, and rarely, if ever, has anything good come from religious fanaticism.

I share the above as prologue to today's discussion, which focuses on a Title VII lawsuit the EEOC recently filed against Aurora Pro Services, a North Carolina residential home service and repair company, alleged to have required employees to participate in religious prayer sessions as a condition of employment.

According to the EEOC, the company required all employees to attend daily Christian prayer meetings led by the company's owner. Those meeting included Bible readings, Christian devotionals, and prayer requests by some employees. The company took attendance and reprimanded any employees who failed to attend. Worse, the company fired an atheist manger who asked to be excused from the meetings and an agnostic customer service rep who simply stopped attending. 

"Employers who sponsor prayer meetings in the workplace have a legal obligation to accommodate employees whose personal religious or spiritual views conflict with the company's practice," correctly notes EEOC regional attorney Melinda C. Dugas. 

If you're thinking of holding a prayer meeting, conducting spiritual discussions or rituals, or doing anything else remotely related to religion at your company, don't. Religion has no place at work. Your employees have the unfettered right to practice the religion of their choice or not to practice any religion at all, and none of it is any of anyone else's business.

The workplace and religion do not mix. An employer cannot force its employees to conform to, follow, or practice their employer's chosen religious practices and beliefs. Anything different violates Title VII.