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Legal aspects of religion in the workplace

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This presentation covers all legal aspects of relgion in the workplace

This presentation covers all legal aspects of relgion in the workplace

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    • 1. IN THE WORKPLACE
    • 2. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Challenge your thinking with some scenarios. Possibly prevent problems from arising by clearly addressing what the laws do and do not require. Provide updated illustrative examples from the case law. Provide answers to frequently asked questions and answers. Present updated information on best practices. Assist you in recognizing when to seek advice.
    • 3. “Considering the United States contains a multitude of religions, keeping religion out of the workplace is particularly difficult considering people's vehement attachment to spiritual beliefs. Recognizing this difficulty, many organizations, such as Taco Bell, Wal-Mart and Pizza Hut, have insisted on welcoming religious plurality by inviting priests, imams and other religious figures into their workplace However, other companies have taken the opposite approach in dealing with religious sensitivities by keeping religious views out of the workplace.” “In a recent survey, 20 percent of the workers interviewed reported that they had either experienced religious prejudice while at work or knew of a coworker who had been subjected to some form of discriminatory conduct.” © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 3
    • 4.    “Taco Bells Pays $27,000 To Settle Religious Discrimination Lawsuit” “Lowe’s has agreed to pay $120,000 to settle a religious discrimination and retaliation lawsuit over an employee who claimed he was scheduled to work on Sunday, against his wishes.” Suhad Hasan, a former Old Navy employee, sued the store's parent company Gap Inc. last month, saying she was treated unfairly because she wears a head scarf. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 4
    • 5.    © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Rob Skinner did not expect to find a chaplain in the office when he started his sales job at Piedmont Air Conditioning in Raleigh, North Carolina. "I was a little worried because I didn't want God shoved down my throat," says Skinner, 38, a self-described liberal Christian. Turns out Dwayne Reece, from the nonprofit, nondenominational Corporate Chaplains of America -- which provides Christian chaplains for companies that request them -- offered encouraging words instead. Piedmont had hired him after the death of an employee, and it worked out so well, he's been visiting for nine years. Update on Religion in the Workplace 5
    • 6. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 6
    • 7. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 7
    • 8. “It’s Friday. The office staff is gathered in the conference room for an employee recognition lunch. There’s a choice of ham, roast beef or salami and cheese sandwiches. There’s also a julienne meat salad and soda. Most think the lunch is a nice gesture to show the workers they’re appreciated. But there are a few who feel left out. The Muslims aren’t there at all because the lunch is held during one of their required prayer times. A Jewish worker looks at the display of food and moves away from the table. Meat together with cheese is not kosher. His colleague, a Hindu, cannot eat meat at all. And a couple of Christians complain to one another because the lunch is taking place during Lent. They, therefore, cannot eat meat either. With the best intentions, a gesture of appreciation has become a medium of exclusion.” Example from Georgette Bennett, President, Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 8
    • 9.     Wearing distinctive religious clothing or jewelry such as yarmulkes, turbans, and head scarves Engaging in religious discussions, group prayers, or bible studies during work day Bringing religious articles or books into office and discussing them with colleagues Asking for some time during the work day to fulfill one’s religious obligations © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 9
    • 10. 1. The employer has a duty to accommodate the employee when he/she becomes aware of a conflict between a work requirement and an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs. 2. The accommodation should eliminate the conflict between employment requirements and the employee’s actual religious beliefs or practices, but must do so without causing “undue hardship” to the employer’s business. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 10
    • 11.      Requires more than ordinary administrative costs. Diminishes the efficiency of other positions Overburdens co-workers. Impairs safety. Conflicts with other laws or policies, including a collective bargaining agreement. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 11
    • 12. 1. Employers should allow religious expression among employees to the same extent that they allow other types of personal expression that are not harassing or disruptive.  © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 12
    • 13. 2. Have a well-publicized and consistently applied anti-harassment policy that: A. Covers religious harassment, B. Clearly explains what is prohibited, C. Describes procedures for bringing harassment to management’s attention; and, D. Contains an assurance that complainants will be protected against retaliation.  The procedures should include a complaint mechanism that includes multiple avenues for complaint; prompt, thorough, and impartial investigations; and prompt and appropriate corrective action. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 13
    • 14. 3. While supervisors are permitted to engage in certain religious expression, they should avoid expression that might – due to their supervisory authority – reasonably be perceived by subordinates as coercive, even when not so intended. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 14
    • 15. 1. 2. 3. Individual religious observances must not disrupt normal activities or impinge upon the rights of others No one must suffer harassment because of one’s religious beliefs or practices Employees who are the recipients of unwelcome religious conduct should inform the individual engaging in the conduct that they wish it to stop.  If the conduct does not stop, employees should report it to their supervisor or other appropriate company official in accordance with the procedures established in the company’s anti-harassment policy. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 15
    • 16. 4. 5. 6. 7. Employees who do not wish to personally confront an individual who is directing unwelcome religious or anti-religious conduct towards them should report the conduct to their supervisor or other appropriate company official in accordance with the company’s anti-harassment policy. Employees should advise their supervisors or managers of the nature of the conflict between their religious needs and the work rules.  Employees should provide enough information to enable the employer to understand what accommodation is needed, and why it is necessitated by a religious practice or belief.  Employees who seek to proselytize in the workplace should cease doing so with respect to any individual who indicates that the communications are unwelcome. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 16
    • 17. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. What is Disparate Treatment based on religion? What is Disparate Impact based on religion ? What is Harassment based on religion? What is a reasonable accommodation of religion? Under Title VII, does an employer have to grant every request for accommodation of a religious belief or practice? © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 17
    • 18. Question 1. What is disparate treatment based on religion?  Answer to Q#1: When a complainant alleges that the agency treated another individual better than it treated him/her or otherwise treated him/her differently because of that individual’s religious beliefs. Question 2: What is disparate impact based on religion?  Answer to Q#2: The complainant alleges that an agency’s neutral policy or practice adversely affects a protected class. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 18
    • 19. Question 3. What is harassment?  Answer to Q#3: Harassment is unwelcome offensive conduct in the workplace where: 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 19
    • 20. Question 4: What is reasonable accommodation of religion?  Answer to Q#4: 1. Under Title VII, an agency has a duty of reasonable accommodation for sincerely held religious beliefs and practices unless to do so would cause an undue hardship. 2. As a general rule, the reasonable accommodation requirement arises most often in cases where an individual is seeking time off for religious observances. Question 5: Under Title VII, does an employer have to grant every request for accommodation of a religious belief or practice?  Answer to Q#5: No. Title VII requires employers to accommodate only those religious beliefs that are religious and “sincerely held” and that can be accommodated without undue hardship. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 20
    • 21.  Title VII defines “religion” to include “all aspects of religious observance and practice as well as belief.” © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 21
    • 22. Religion includes not only traditional, organized religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, but also religious beliefs that are new, uncommon, not part of a formal church or sect, only subscribed to by a small number of people, or that seem illogical or unreasonable to others. Further, a person’s religious beliefs “need not be confined in either source or content to traditional or parochial concepts of religion.” © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 22
    • 23.    Religious beliefs include theistic beliefs as well as nontheistic “moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong which are sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious views.” Although courts generally resolve doubts about particular beliefs in favor of finding that they are religious, beliefs are not protected merely because they are strongly held.  Rather, religion typically concerns “ultimate ideas” about “life, purpose, and death.” Social, political, or economic philosophies, as well as mere personal preferences, are not “religious” beliefs protected by Title VII. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 23
    • 24.     © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Are protected under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Are protected under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination. An employer has certain obligations to provide reasonable accommodation of religious beliefs under state and federal laws. But employers do not have to accommodate religious beliefs where employees manifest those beliefs by harassing others. Update on Religion in the Workplace 24
    • 25.    A religious belief or practice need not be based upon a traditional religion and does not have to be a belief held as tenet by others of the same religion. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has held that protected religious belief also includes the freedom not to believe. The only limitations on a belief protected under Title VII are that it must be religious as opposed to social, political, or economic in nature and it must be sincerely held. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 25
    • 26.   Employees are protected in the workplace in their right to adhere to and practice their religious beliefs, and the employer can not discriminate against them on this basis unless to do so would be undue hardship on the employer. An Employer can not question the acceptability of an employee’s religion or when the employee came to believe. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 26
    • 27. The prohibition on religious discrimination is not absolute, as an employer has only the duty to reasonably accommodate the employee’s religious conflict unless to do so would cause the employer undue hardship.  While an employer must make a good faith effort to reasonably accommodate religious conflicts, if such efforts fail the employer will have discharged the employer’s duties under Title VII. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace  27
    • 28.   The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines "religion" to include moral or ethical beliefs about right and wrong that are sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious views. Religious discrimination also includes discrimination against someone because s/he is an atheist. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 28
    • 29. An OIT employee works at the HUB. The HUB requires 24-7 coverage. The employee joins the Seventh-Day Adventists. One of his sincere religious beliefs is that he can’t work between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday, which is considered the Sabbath. The employee is assigned to a weekend shift. He informs his supervisor that he can no longer work on weekends because he belongs to the Seventh-Day Adventists and requests that he be moved to a Monday – Friday shift. The supervisor refuses to transfer him. The shift reassignment is not an undue hardship. The supervisor tells him that he will be terminated if he can’t work the weekend shift. Is this in compliance with EEO laws? © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 29
    • 30. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 30
    • 31.  Violation based on the employee’s religion. An employer must accommodate an employee’s sincere religious beliefs as long as the accommodation doesn’t represent an undue hardship for the employer. The supervisor should have allowed the employee to have a shift assignment that allowed him to work Monday through Friday. Such an accommodation is required even if the supervisor had to transfer an employee already on a Monday through Friday shift to the weekend shift. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 31
    • 32.  Amarjit Singh and Bhupinder Singh are Sikh men and the turban that they wear is a religiously-mandated article of clothing. Their supervisor tells them that the turban makes coworkers uncomfortable and has asked them to not wear their turbans at work. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 32
    • 33. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 33
    • 34. “If a turban is religiously-mandated, you should ask your employer for a religious accommodation to wear it at work. Your employer has a legal obligation to grant your request if it does not impose a burden, or an ‘undue hardship,’ under Title VII. Claiming that your coworkers might be ‘upset’ or ‘uncomfortable’ when they see your turban is not an undue hardship.” © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 34
    • 35. You are the supervisor of a unit within a department whose policy is to have its facilities used only for business related purposes. Several groups of employees in your unit have informed you that they belong one of the five groups below that hold one or more of the indicated sincerely held beliefs, that they would like to use a conference room at the department at noontime so they can practice their religion during the workday, and if permission is not granted then you, the supervisor , are discriminating against them on the basis of religion. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 35
    • 36. The Church of the Great Commission—Sincerely believe in the Apostles Creed, that they are “called upon” to be disciples and make disciples throughout the world, that they are indwelt by “The Holy Sprit”, that they should pray daily, read The Word, and give of their time, talents, and treasure. 2. The Church of James Brown Always Above Ground— Sincerely believe the best way to keep James Brown’s memory alive is to daily do several of his dance routines first thing in the morning and sing several of his songs during the day. Update on Religion in the Workplace © 2012 Ronald W. Brown 1. 36
    • 37. 3. 4. 5. The Church of Elvis Never Left the Building—Sincerely believe the best way to keep Elvis memory alive is to sing several of his songs during the day, visit Graceland, and on his birthday wear blue suede shoes and clothing. The Wiccans---Sincerely believe in the practice of magic, casting spells through ritual practices, practicing secret rituals, observing eight seasonal festivals including on October 31st, and the statement “an it harm none, do what you will.” Atheists Without Belief—Sincerely have no belief in a god or gods. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 37
    • 38. A. B. C. You must grant permission to use a conference room at the department to each of the five groups since they have sincerely held beliefs. You must grant permission to use a conference room at the department only to employees who belong to the Church of the Great Commission, because you feel that is a “real” religion and the others are “illogical or incomprehensible”. You can deny permission to use the conference room to the employees who are Wiccans because you feel Wicca is not a religion but a “conglomeration of various aspects of the occult such as spell casting, and tarot card reading”. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 38
    • 39. D. You can deny permission to use the conference room to the employees who belong to Atheists without Walls since atheism is not a religion. E. You do not have to grant permission to any of the groups to use a conference room at lunch time. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 39
    • 40. A. The Supervisor must grant permission to use a conference room at the company to each of the five groups since they have sincerely held beliefs. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 40
    • 41. A. False. The employer’s policy is to restrict its facilities for use only for business purposes. So long as the employer employs that policy uniformly, there is no discrimination based on religion. For Business Purposes Only © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 41
    • 42. B. You must grant permission to use a conference room at the company only to employees who belong to the Church of the Great Commission, because you the Supervisor feels that is a “real” religion and the others are “illogical or incomprehensible”. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 42
    • 43. B. False. You can not give differential treatment to the beliefs of one group as a “real religion” and the beliefs of another group as “illogical or incomprehensible”. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 43
    • 44. C. The Supervisor can deny permission to use the conference room to the employees who are Wiccans because you feel Wicca is not a religion but a “conglomeration of various aspects of the occult such as spell casting, and tarot card reading.” © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 44
    • 45. C. False. The Supervisor can not give differential treatment to the beliefs of one group as a “real religion” and the beliefs of another group as “illogical or incomprehensible”. Also in Dettmer v. Landon (1986), even though the government argued that Wicca was “a conglomeration of various aspects of the occult such as spell casting, and tarot card reading”, a federal court for the first time recognized Wicca was a religion for purposes of the free exercise clause in the First Amendment (but held it was not a violation of the First amendment to deny Dettmer, a Virginia prisoner, access to six ritual objects, varieties of knife, with which to practice Wicca rituals). © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 45
    • 46. D. The Supervisor can deny permission to use the conference room to the employees who belong to Atheists without Walls since atheism is not a religion. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 46
    • 47. D. False. Title VII covers beliefs and non-belief. It protects theism as well as atheism. Remember religion, under Title VII is “a sincere and meaningful belief which occupies in the life of the possessor a place parallel to that filled by god” (U.S. v. Seeger) and that “religious” beliefs include theistic beliefs as well as non-theistic “moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong which are sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious views.” © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 47
    • 48. E. The Supervisor does not have to grant permission to any of the groups to use a conference room at lunch time. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 48
    • 49. E. True. So long as the employer’s policy and consistent practice is to have its facilities used only for business related purposes, the Supervisor does not have to grant permission to use a conference room at the company to any of the five groups, and there is no discrimination on the basis of religion. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 49
    • 50. “Martha, Mary, Mark, and I are Believers, and on Ash Wednesday we came back from lunch with ash crosses on our foreheads. Our co-worker Marilyn, who says she’s a Wiccan witch saw us, and said ‘You people look so stupid! and I’m offended by those crosses! You can’t wear those in the workplace. You have to go to the rest room and wash those crosses off right now.” © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 50
    • 51. I replied “We are not washing anything off, but we’ll pray for you.” Marilyn then touched the pentagram necklace pendant she always wears and said “If you do, you better believe I’ll put an evil spell on you! "AVADA KEDAVRA!"” I told her she was not lord Voldemort in a Harry Potter movie, she could keep her spells to herself, that she acted and looked more like Megan, the demon possessed child in “The Exorcist”, and she needed to schedule an emergency exorcism to get her demons cast out!” The employees all go to their supervisor to resolve this. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 51
    • 52. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 52
    • 53.   “Unless it would be an undue hardship on the employer's operation of its business, an employer must reasonably accommodate an employee's religious beliefs or practices. This applies not only to schedule changes or leave for religious observances, but also to such things as dress or grooming practices that an employee has for religious reasons. These might include, for example, wearing particular head coverings or other religious dress (such as a Jewish yarmulke or a Muslim headscarf), or wearing certain hairstyles or facial hair (such as Rastafarian dreadlocks or Sikh uncut hair and beard). It also includes an employee's observance of a religious prohibition against wearing certain garments (such as pants or miniskirts). When an employee or applicant needs a dress or grooming accommodation for religious reasons, he should notify the employer that he needs such an accommodation for religious reasons. If the employer reasonably needs more information, the employer and the employee should engage in an interactive process to discuss the request. If it would not pose an undue hardship, the employer must grant the accommodation.” © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 53
    • 54.    © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Hickey, probationary employee, and a Born Again Christian, wore a lanyard like the one shown here, around his neck. Attached to the lanyard was a clear plastic badge holder with a piece of paper with the handwritten words “Jesus Loves You!” and a drawing of a cross. His supervisor told him he had to remove the lanyard because “it was not part of his uniform.” Hickey said he would do so only if other employees were also required to remove their religious paraphernalia. Update on Religion in the Workplace 54
    • 55.  Hickey said: “ You got to tell the Muslim woman she’s got to take her scarf off, and the Hindu, with the turban, and…the Jewish man with the yarmulke is going to have to take off his yarmulke. It’s not fair that you want me to take my lanyard off. I have the freedom of my religion and freedom of speech.” © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 55
    • 56. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 56
    • 57. 1. Treating applicants or employees differently (disparate treatment) based on their religious beliefs or practices – or lack thereof – in any aspect of employment, including recruitment, hiring, assignments, discipline, promotion, and benefits; © 2012 Ronald W. Brown 2. Subjecting employees to harassment because of their religious beliefs or practices – or lack thereof – or because of the religious practices or beliefs of people with whom they associate (e.g., relatives, friends, etc.); Update on Religion in the Workplace 57
    • 58. 3. Denying a requested reasonable accommodation of an applicant’s or employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs or practices – or lack thereof – if an accommodation will not impose an undue hardship on the conduct of the business; and, © 2012 Ronald W. Brown 4. Retaliating against an applicant or employee who has engaged in protected activity, including participation (e.g., filing an EEO charge or testifying as a witness in someone else’s EEO matter), or opposition relating to alleged religious discrimination (e.g., complaining to HR department about alleged religious discrimination). Update on Religion in the Workplace 58
    • 59. Religion includes not only traditional, organized religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, but also religious beliefs that are new, uncommon, not part of a formal church or sect, only subscribed to by a small number of people, or that seem illogical or unreasonable to others. Further, a person’s religious beliefs “need not be confined in either source or content to traditional or parochial concepts of religion.” © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 59
    • 60.    Religious beliefs include theistic beliefs as well as non-theistic “moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong which are sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious views.” Although courts generally resolve doubts about particular beliefs in favor of finding that they are religious, beliefs are not protected merely because they are strongly held.  Rather, religion typically concerns “ultimate ideas” about “life, purpose, and death.” Social, political, or economic philosophies, as well as mere personal preferences, are not “religious” beliefs protected by Title VII. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 60
    • 61.     © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Are protected under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act Are protected under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination An employer has certain obligations to provide reasonable accommodation of religious beliefs under state and federal laws. But employers do not have to accommodate religious beliefs where employees manifest those beliefs by harassing others. Update on Religion in the Workplace 61
    • 62.    The United States Supreme Court's determined in Seeger that religion need only be "(a) sincere and meaningful belief which occupies in the life of its possessor a place parallel to that filled by ... God [in other religions]" Even those religious beliefs that others may find "incomprehensible or incorrect" are protected under Title VII An employer may not judge the veracity or reasonableness of the religious beliefs of an employee © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 62
    • 63.    A religious belief or practice need not be based upon a traditional religion and does not have to be a belief held as tenet by others of the same religion The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has held that protected religious belief also includes the freedom not to believe The only limitations on a belief protected under Title VII are that it must be religious as opposed to social, political, or economic in nature and it must be sincerely held © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 63
    • 64.   Employees are protected in the workplace in their right to adhere to and practice their religious beliefs, and the employer can not discriminate against them on this basis unless to do so would be undue hardship on the employer. An Employer can not question the acceptability of an employee’s religion or when the employee came to believe. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 64
    • 65.   The prohibition on religious discrimination is not absolute, as an employer has only the duty to reasonably accommodate the employee’s religious conflict unless to do so would cause the employer undue hardship. While an employer must make a good faith effort to reasonably accommodate religious conflicts, if such efforts fail the employer will have discharged the employer’s duties under Title VII. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 65
    • 66.   John, who is a Christian Scientist, shares an office with Rick, a Mormon.  Rick repeatedly tells John that he is practicing a false religion, and that he should study Mormon literature.  Despite John’s protestations that he is very happy with his religion and has no desire to convert, Rick regularly leaves religious pamphlets on John’s desk and tries to talk to him about religion.  After vainly asking Rick to stop the behavior, John complains to their immediate supervisor, who dismisses John’s complaint on the ground that Rick is a nice person who believes that he is just being helpful.  If the harassment continues, the employer is liable because it knew, through the supervisor, about Rick’s harassing conduct but failed to take immediate and appropriate corrective action © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 66
    • 67.   Eve is a secretary who displays a Bible on her desk at work.  Xavier, a secretary in the same workplace, begins displaying a Quran on his desk at work.  Their supervisor allows Eve to retain the Bible but directs Xavier to put the Quran out of view because, he states, co-workers “will think you are making a political statement, and with everything going on in the world right now we don’t need that around here.”  This differential treatment of similarly situated employees with respect to the display of a religious item at work constitutes disparate treatment based on religion in violation of Title VII. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 67
    • 68.   Susan and Roger are members of the same church and are both employed at XYZ Corporation.  Susan works as an architect in a private office on an upper floor, where she occasionally interacts with co-workers, but not with clients.  Roger is a security guard stationed at a desk in the front lobby of the XYZ building through which all employees, clients, and other visitors must enter.  At a recent service at Susan and Roger’s church, the minister distributed posters with the message “Jesus Saves!” and encouraged parishioners to display the posters at their workplaces in order to “spread the word.”  Susan and Roger each display the poster on the wall above their respective work stations.  XYZ orders both to remove the poster despite the fact that both explained that they felt a religious obligation to display it, and despite the fact that there have been no complaints from co-workers or clients.  Susan and Roger file charges alleging denial of religious accommodation.  The employer will probably be unable to show that allowing Susan to display a religious message in her personal workspace posed an undue hardship, because there was no evidence of any disruption to the business or the workplace which resulted.  By contrast, because Roger sits at the lobby desk and the poster is the first thing that visitors see upon entering the building, it would appear to represent XYZ’s views and would therefore likely be shown to pose an undue hardship. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 68
    • 69.      Betty is a Mormon. During a disagreement regarding a joint software development project, a co-worker, Julian, told Betty that she didn’t know what she was talking about and that she should go back to Salt Lake City. When Betty subsequently proposes a different approach to the software development project, Julian tells her that her suggestions are as “flaky” as he would expect from “her kind.” When Betty tries to resolve the conflict, Julian tells her that if she is uncomfortable working with him, she can either ask to be reassigned, or she can “just pray about it.” Over the next six months, Julian regularly makes negative references to Betty’s religion. Julian’s persistent offensive remarks create a hostile environment. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 69
    • 70. “An employer must have a legitimate business justification for prohibiting religious items in the workplace.” “Mere concern that the religious object is ‘too religious’ generally will not suffice.” “An employer must show that the religious object violates an established company policy and/or intentionally disparages other individuals.” © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 70
    • 71. An employee who uses a religious display as a means for proselytizing could be in violation of an employers nonsolicitation policy prohibiting employees from soliciting other individuals for personal causes during working hours. The key to effectively managing religious expression in the workplace is the “consistent and uniform implementation and enforcement of antiharassment and antidiscrimination policies. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 71
    • 72. Defendant Costco, terminated Kimberly Cloutier after she violated Costco's dress code by insisting on wearing facial piercings while working as a cashier and by refusing an accommodation (originally suggested by Cloutier herself) that would have allowed her to continue wearing her piercings in a less noticeable manner. Cloutier later argued that wearing a band-aid over her facial piercing, or replacing her jewelry during working hours with a clear plastic retainer, would violate her personal religious convictions. Costco asserted that allowing Cloutier to be exempted from its neutral dress code policy would be an undue hardship on its business in that an exemption would undermine Costco's interest in presenting a professional appearance toUpdate on Religion in the Workplace its customers. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Member of the Church of Body Modification 72
    • 73.  Held:  The accommodation offered by the Costco, and ultimately rejected by the Cloutier, was reasonable as a matter of law, under Title VII and state law.  Costco's offered accommodation reasonably respected Cloutier's expressed religious beliefs while protecting Costco's legitimate interest in presenting a workforce to its customers that is reasonably professional in appearance.  There was no evidence that the dress policy was directed at any religion. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 73
    • 74. Richard Peterson, in response to Hewlett-Packard’s diversity posters which addressed homosexuality, posted anti-gay Biblical scriptures in his cubicle. When Peterson, “a devout Christian,” refused to take down the scriptures because he wanted to condemn “gay behavior,” HewlettPackard terminated Peterson’s employment for violating the company’s anti-harassment policy © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 74
    • 75. EEOC v. Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc. (#C04-1291)  The lawsuit claims that Red Robin refused to offer an employee any accommodation for his Kemetic religion, an ancient Egyptian faith.  As part of his practice, the employee went through a rite where he received religious inscriptions as tattoos. The inscriptions, less than a quarter-inch wide and encircling his wrists, are a verse from an Egyptian scripture and are written in a liturgical language. They symbolize his dedication and servitude to his creator and his beliefs make it a sin to intentionally conceal the religious inscriptions. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 75
    • 76. Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc., a casual dining chain with restaurants throughout the country, will pay $150,000 and make substantial policy and procedural changes to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged the company with refusing to accommodate the religious needs of an employee and then illegally firing him. Update on Religion in the Workplace 76
    • 77.  More than 160 Muslims have enlisted the federal government in two discrimination lawsuits against JBS Swift meatpacking plants, where they allege blood and bones were hurled at them, bathroom walls were covered with vile graffiti and company supervisors disrupted their efforts to worship during Ramadan, ultimately firing many Islamic employees. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown The bathroom graffiti included denigrating references to Somalia, antiMuslim language and use of the N-word. Update on Religion in the Workplace 77
    • 78.  When he complained to a supervisor, Farah said, he was warned not to file a complaint or he could lose his job. The Greeley case alleges supervisors also threw animal parts at Muslim workers. In addition, workers said that they were harassed when they tried to pray during scheduled breaks and that their requests to pray during bathroom breaks were denied. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 78
    • 79. © 2012 Ronald W. Brown Update on Religion in the Workplace 79