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| The Score on Religion in the Workplace
[Last Modified on 2006.12.03]

Privately owned workplaces (non-government funded) may set up whatever rules they wish for their employees. They may not discriminate on the basis of religious belief alone; however, if a religious belief or practice will make employees unable to comply with the rules and regulations set up by the employer, or fulfill their job duties in any way, then the employer has every right to refuse or terminate employment.

  • As an example, a pharmacist working for a privately owned pharmacy must comply with the job description as it applies to a pharmacist working for that company. If that job description includes filling all valid prescriptions brought to the pharmacy, then any refusal on the part of the pharmacist is valid grounds for termination of employment, as delineated in the contractual terms of the pharmacist's employment. You wouldn't expect a restaurant to continue employing a waiter who refused to serve a steak due to his personal beliefs as a vegetarian. The situation is fundamentally identical. Note, however, that a doctor who has his or her own private practice gets to make the rules for that practice; if the doctor doesn't want to give out certain prescriptions or medications, no one can sue the private practice for this decision.
  • Another example: one of the requirements for subway drivers in New York City's MTA is that they wear the uniform meant for the job. For whatever reason — religious or otherwise — that a driver refuses to comply with the organization's dress code, that would be valid grounds for termination of employment. This is not discrimination based on religious belief or any other grounds — it is termination because of failure to comply with the job description. (In the news article link above, we should point out that the MTA graciously made an exception to their rule, though they were under no legal obligation to do so. This is best left to the judgment of the employer.)


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[  Filed under: % Civil Liberties  % Religion  ]


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