Showing posts with label religious discrimination. Show all posts
Showing posts with label religious discrimination. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Can an employer require that employees be of a specific faith? Believe it or not, it depends.

"Mature orthodox Christian faith as defined by the Apostles' Creed."

That is one of the qualifications listed in a job posting for a filmmaker position. The employer — the International Justice Mission — is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the mission of which is to combat human trafficking and slavery, violence against women and children, and police abuse of power worldwide.

Can IJM make a certain religious faith a job qualification or otherwise ask about religion as part of the hiring process?

It depends on whether "religion" is a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) for that employer.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

An employee may not have a right to receive a reasonable accommodation, but they at least have a right to conversation about it

The EEOC has sued Mercy Health St. Mary's for religious discrimination, claiming that it violated Title VII by rescinding a job offer to an applicant who, for religious reasons, refused to obtain a flu vaccine pursuant to hospital policy.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, the hospital arbitrarily denied the applicant's request for an accommodation from its vaccination policy and rescinded the job offer, without specifying why or how the request for an exemption accommodation was deficient. Instead, the EEOC alleges, it should have offered an opportunity to supplement the accommodation request to address any perceived deficiencies.

Monday, April 10, 2023

7th Circuit decides the issue of religious rights vs. trans rights … and trans rights won

I really wanted to move on this week from writing about transgender rights. But then the 7th Circuit had to go and decide that a student's right to be called by his or her preferred gender trumps a teacher's religious accommodation request not to do so.

The case is Kluge v. Brownsburg Community School Corp. John Kluge worked as a music teacher at the Brownsburg Community School Corp. In 2017, the school adopted a new policy that required teachers to use students' chosen names and pronouns. Kluge refused to abide, asserting that it violated his Christian beliefs. The school initially granted an accommodation that permitted Kluge to refer to all students by their last names. It withdrew the accommodation, however, after both trans and cisgender students became angered after deciphering Kluge's surname use. Kluge resigned and sued for religious discrimination and retaliation under Title VII.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

6th Circuit confirms that private employers can do private employer things

Four employees of the J.M. Smucker Company sought religious exemptions from the company's Covid vaccine mandate. When the company refused, they sued, claiming that the mandate infringed on their First Amendment religious liberties.

The 6th Circuit easily concluded that the 1st Amendment does not apply to J.M. Smucker or limits its power to regulate its workplace as it is a private company, not a federal, state, or local government.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Your religion isn’t a license to discriminate (but we may need to accommodate you anyway)

Pronouns confuse me. It's not that I want to misgender anyone. In fact, quite to the contrary, I try really hard to get people's pronouns correct when addressing them or speaking about them. To me, it's a simple matter of common decency. My efforts to get them correct, however, doesn't mean that they still don't confuse me. When I grew up, I learned that "they" refers to a group of people. Thus, when someone refers to someone else as "they," my brains says, "more than one." It's just difficult, but I still try to get it right.

Which brings me to the story of Vivian Geraghty, a middle school teacher. She is suing her former employer after being told either to use the preferred pronouns of her students or resign. She chose the latter, and claims in her lawsuit that the school's mandate discriminated against her Christian beliefs, which the school should have accommodated. Geraghty says the school instead should have explored potential accommodations such as moving her to another classroom or addressing students by their last names

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Is God anti-union?

Thomas Ross, a security officer employed by Allied Universal in San Francisco, has filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC against Service Employees International Union officials and his employer for forcing him to join and financially support the union after he told both that his religious beliefs forbid union support.

Under the National Labor Relations Act, an employee can be forced to join a labor union and pay union dues whether or not he or she supports that union or any union. If, however, the employee happens to work in one of the 27 states with right to work laws, he or she cannot be forced to join or pay. California is not one of those states. Thus, Ross claims that his employer and the SEIU should have reasonably accommodated his sincerely held religious belief that union membership violates his Christian beliefs.

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.

Monday, June 13, 2022

LGBTQ+ rights vs. religious liberty

"It's an abomination to God. Rainbow is not meant to be displayed as a sign for sexual gender."

That's what Daniel Snyder wrote on the electronic bulletin board of his employer, Arconic. According to the Des Moines Register and Snyder's recently filed lawsuit, it's also what got him fired.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Accountability always starts at the top

How do you respond to an employee who states that the Covid-19 vaccine is a plot by "the Jews" to exterminate people? Does your answer change if the employee in question is the company's founder? 

The correct answers: You fire him, and no, it doesn't matter who he is.

The scenario recently played out at Entrata, a Utah technology company. David Bateman, Entrata's founder, sent an email to multiple parties, including various Utah tech leaders. Bateman's email started with the subject line, "Genocide." It went downhill from there. 

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Coronavirus Update 11-11-2021: Religious groups tell 5th Circuit that the OSHA vaccine mandate is a “sin against God"

In a filing made with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the petition seeking to strike down OSHA's "vaccine or test" emergency temporary standard, the American Family Association and Word of God Fellowship (which does business as Daystar Television Network) told the court that imposing the mandate on religious employees would be a "sin against God." (For the record, the AFA also believes that climate change is a hoax because only God can control the climate and stands firm against legal protection for LGBT rights. But I digress.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Coronavirus Update 11-10-2021: Federal judge grants injunction victory to United on its vaccine mandates, but signals that this war is far from over

A U.S. federal district court judge ruled that an employer can impose on its employees a Covid-19 vaccine mandate that provides unpaid leave as the only reasonable accommodation for medical or religious reasons.

The case, Sambrano v. United Airlines, was seen as a test case for the viability of unpaid leave as a reasonable accommodation to vaccine mandates. The order denied the plaintiffs their requested preliminary injunction. Yet, it's not that aspect of the case that's the most noteworthy. Instead, it's the critical words that the judge saved for United's apparent cavalier and callous attitude against religious accommodations as a whole to which employers should pay the most attention.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Coronavirus Update 10-28-2021: EEOC publishes its own internal Religious Accommodation Request form

"Jon, we have so many employees asking us for religious accommodations from our workplace Covid rules, including our vaccine mandate. Do you have a form we can use to document the request?" 

I certainly do. But it's not mine. It's the EEOC's. The Agency just published the internal form it uses for its own employees' religious accommodation requests.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Coronavirus Update 8-19-2021: The (Un)Healthy American, along with other more reputable organizations, help Americans dodge vaccine mandates

Meet Peggy Hall. She runs a website called The Healthy American

What is The Healthy American? For starters, it's a website that NewsGuard ranks 22.5/100 (a failing grade no matter how you slice it), for, among other sins and errors, publishing false and irresponsible misinformation about the Covid vaccine. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Coronavirus Update 8–10–2021: Vaccines and religions accommodation requests

"I need an accommodation for your mandatory vaccination policy. The vaccine is against my religion."

As more employers roll out vaccine mandates, more will be faced with this exact scenario.

Title VII requires an employer to reasonably accommodate an employee's sincerely held religious beliefs, practices, or observances, as long as the accommodation does not impose an undue hardship. 

Two, and only two, religions, however, actually support people not getting vaccinated as a tenet of the religion — Christian Scientists and the Dutch Reformed Church. There are an estimated 106,000 Christian Scientists in the United States, and 194,000 members of the Reformed Church. That's a tidy total of 300,000 potential religious objectors based on their religion's actual teachings, period (or only 0.25% of all employees). But that minuscule number does not end the inquiry.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Religious accommodations shouldn’t flummox employers, yet they still do

I've shared this story before, but it's worth re-sharing because (a) it's been a few years and I have many new readers, (b) it's really good, and (c) because it's super relevant to today's lesson.

I spent a high-school summer working on a warehouse loading dock. One of my co-workers was named Harland Jester. (I provide his name because he named his son "Court," and this context provides the necessary color for the rest of the story.)

Four days into my summer job, a co-worker pulled me aside and asked, "Did Harland get a hold of you yet?"

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Title VII and “fringe" religions

"A pagan says she faced religious discrimination while working at Panera. Now, she’s suing." So reads the headline at the Washington Post. The plaintiff claims that after she told an assistant manager that she was pagan, her hours were cut and she was told they wouldn't be restored until she "found God" (in addition to other alleged workplace harassment). 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

“Religious freedom” ≠ freedom to discriminate (but sometimes it must be accommodated anyway)

The EEOC has sued an Arkansas Kroger after it fired two of its employees for allegedly objecting to its new dress code that required employees to wear an apron that contained rainbow-colored heart insignia. 

According to the EEOC, the women believed the insignia endorsed LGBTQ values, which contradicted their personal religious beliefs. As an accommodation, one offered to cover the insignia and the other offered to wear a different apron without it. The EEOC says that Kroger refused their accommodation requests, disciplined them, and ultimately fired them.  

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Does Title VII protect “veganism” as a religion?

A judge in the United Kingdom has ruled that “ethical veganism” is a protected class akin to religion and is protected from workplace discrimination. The Washington Post shares the details:

An employment tribunal made that landmark determination in a case involving a man who claimed he was fired from his job at an animal rights organization for revealing to colleagues that their pension funds were invested in companies that experiment on animals. The tribunal has yet to rule on the merits of the case, but it did on Friday take the step of deciding that the man’s ethical veganism constitutes a “philosophical and religious belief” protected by anti-discrimination law.

That’s the United Kingdom. What about the United States? Well, it depends.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

“Hairstyle discrimination” laws: a solution in search of a problem

I fully embrace the irony of a local news broadcast holding me out as the expert on hair discrimination. 👨🏻‍🦲

Irony notwithstanding, here I am on last night’s 6 o’clock news discussing why we don’t need to ban workplace hairstyle discrimination. (Big thank you to WEWS’s Mike Brookbank for reaching out and for the interview.)

Thursday, August 1, 2019

When an employee’s religion clashes with an employer’s dress code

A Muslim woman is suing the hospital at which she works as medical assistant, claiming she was told she needed a “note from the Quran” when she asked for an exception to the hospital’s dress code to wear a face covering during Ramadan.

The case, Boyd v. Cooper University Hospital, is pending in federal court in New Jersey. While it’s just filed, and years from resolution, we can use it to learn how an employer should react when a employee dons religious garb in the workplace.