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Employee: I have a religious right to trample employees' religious rights

Discussion in 'Political Discussion' started by PatsFanInVa, Mar 16, 2012.

  1. PatsFanInVa

    PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    A recently dismissed manager at JPL asserts he was let go because he is a Christian.

    Although JPL says it was not the reason he was let go in the latest round of layoffs, he does have documented incidences of harassing people who work under him, pushing his own views on them in a way that he was warned was "unwelcome."

    Let's leave aside the question of the "real" reason he lost his job. His employer says it's just a layoff; he says it's for cause.

    Let's go straight to the "cause" argument, since this guy clearly embraces having a cause in general.

    If I'm an employer, and you regularly harangue me on your religious views on anti-gay marriage, evolution vs. creationism, etc. -- even though you're warned that employees find it unwelcome -- is that your "religious right?"

    What about my own religious right? Because of the power imbalance I can hardly have a level playing field to engage you, even though you are engaging me, on these topics.

    What about protecting the religious rights of those who prefer not to be proselytized to at work -- especially when that unwanted attention comes from someone who writes their evaluations?

    Life Inc. - Religion at work can bring fire and brimstone

    Interested in all angles, even 13's ;)

    PFnV
     
  2. DarrylS

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    At first glance this seems to be more about bullying, which is sometimes intertwined with religious beliefs in many areas....

    Overview of the Civil Rights Law from the Anti Defamation League..

     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2012
  3. PatsFanInVa

    PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Looks like #4 would apply to this guy (employers are required to take steps to address religious harassment or employees.)
     
  4. chicowalker

    chicowalker Pro Bowl Player

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    Unless he can demonstrate that people of other religions were permitted to do the same, he should get nowhere.

    Proselytizing at the workplace isn't the same as having religious convictions, which I don't think anybody here is going to dispute (but I guess we'll see).
     
  5. DarrylS

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    A lot of folks do not understand their culpibility if they choose to do nothing, often the greatest transgressions are ones of ommission. Sometimes their silence can be viewed as conspiratorial, and failing to act can mean civil and criminal penalties.
     
  6. PatsFanInVa

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    Apparently his conduct is noted as "unwelcome" in his personnel file. Ya think maybe there's been a complaint or two?
     
  7. PatsWSB47

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    #12 Jersey

    It might apply but the employer is't going down that road. He was let go as as part of a massive layoff, not because they were taking steps to stop any harassing. I'd like to know more facts and hear from more witnesses your honor:)
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2012
  8. khayos

    khayos In the Starting Line-Up

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    Work is for work... if your employer doesn't want you expressing those views, find another job.
     
  9. PatsFan24

    PatsFan24 In the Starting Line-Up

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    Sickening.
     
  10. PatsFanInVa

    PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Oh, only sometimes. And it's not like he won't chime in anyway.
     
  11. patsfan13

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    Well JPL seems to be talking outing both sides of their mouth. If a layoff was it for poor performance? Seniority?

    IF it was for his workplace behavior then there should be a paper trail of warnings that were ignored and so on.

    Would be interesting to see the reaction if his religion and views were different...


    In general people shouldn't harass others in the workplace, if a private employer I have no problem getting rid of a bothersome employee at the discretion of the employer. In the public sector the rules are a bit different and shoudl be applied in an even handed manner.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2012
  12. PatriotsReign

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    #18 Jersey

    On a trip to my co.'s headquarters for a meeting last summer, I co-worker and I went to Borders to sit and have a cup 'O joe. He asked me if I knew the story of some guy from the bible (forget his name)...without answering his question, he began to share the story with me. First of all, I rarely allow anyone to tell me a long story (pet peeve). Well this one began to get long real quick so I suddenly interrupted him bruntly and said, "Kevin, stop! I don't like people telling me stories from the bible." and he looked at me because we've discussed how our faith is important to us. I just never told him I didn't like being preached to. Gives me the creeps!

    He's never done it since...and he's actually a nice guy.

    But I'd have no tolerance for an idiot like this guy.
     
  13. PatsFanInVa

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    First of all, I re-read the story, and I have a request for you (13), if you have any special mod tools.

    Please change the title to Employee: I have a religious right to trample other employees' religious rights.

    I brain farted. I don't think this guy is a manager - he just harassed peers, not underlings. So, if you've got the tools, please fix the thread title.

    That's a reasonable complaint, from a practical standpoint. If it's a layoff, it's not for cause, right? You're just trimming the less useful bits. So to the extent you talk publicly, how does it help your legal position to establish that he should have been fired, but wasn't?

    It seemed to go like this:

    JPL: You're laid off
    Coppedge: They fired me because I'm religious
    Media: Did you fire him because he's religious?
    JPL: No, but we could have.

    From the story I linked

    I contemplated posting something like this story, but substituting a Muslim for the Christian. Better yet, a Satanist. Or how about a neo-kabalist explaining how the Big Bang was obviously a misunderstanding of the primordial tzim-tzum by which the en sof emanated the sephira? -- perhaps accompanied by offering the guy a Madona CD? Then I decided (1) too much work, (2) tedious cliche, and (3) invites silliness rather than discussion of the core issues.

    So okay, position noted, you're implying only Christians could get in trouble for this, because other groups are so much better protected under the law. I disagree. Let's move on to the core issue.

    Does the law protects the proselytizer/harasser or the people he wants to save/harass (notwithstanding that this case will fall under the header "did they let him go as part of a layoff, or because of his religious activities?")

    That is, the secondary question is "Well, where is the line? Does he need to proselytize at work as part of his religion? How it that protecting other employees' rights not to be harassed?"

    I agree that were this about his harassment of other employees -- which puts the employer at risk for creating the environment -- and the employer would be within his rights letting the employee go. (Bearing in mind that officially, they just had too many code monkeys or whatever, and they let him go.)

    Also agree that public sector entities often have more robust protections that private sector entities -- although I will say that the interpretations are all over the map, based on the culture of different agencies.

    But as for me, I can guarantee you I would never get cranky about an employee who wanted to say "Merry Christmas." I'd say "Merry Christmas" or "happy holidays" or "happy hannukah" back.

    But I would, certainly, think of the heat I'd take if an employee who reported to me were insisting that the "Holiday Party" be retro-named the "Christmas Party." He'd get no support on my part.

    Were I his peer, and he showed signs of having any success, I'd write to whoever was considering the retro-naming, and ask their reasons. I'd encourage others who weren't Christians to follow suit. I see no reason to use the workplace party name to push one religion's establishment over all others.

    But all that is the usual culture war bothersomeness. The real bright red line here, or bright red-and-white candy-striped line, if it's December.... is that the guy is saying he has a right to harass other employees even though they've complained to management and management is asking him to cut it out.

    To me, that line is there because their rights are being trampled. He's been asked to cut it out and he refuses.

    To wrap up -- I also don't think that's the case for him if he just wore a very visible cross, or carried a bible around, or whatever. It's the act of infringing on the rights of people who've told him to keep away that puts him over the line. They've got rights too.

    PFnV
     
  14. PatsWSB47

    PatsWSB47 Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    #12 Jersey

    In that case you let him know and he backed off. No problem. If he kept it up........problem.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2012
  15. patsfan13

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    That is where they made a mistake IMO either his religion was a factor or not...If it wasn't a factor they should be able to say why he was among the people laid off. Then his religion isn't an issue.


    If his religion was the issue he should have been released for being disruptive and not laid off.


    If he was going to be released HR would have a defined procedure for firing for cause which would be fully documented. An escalation of disciplinary procedures that he and a manager and HR would signoff on. If they cannot supplying supporting documents they would be hosed. Whether emplloyees complained or not. This would apply to any behavior from sexual harassment to being drunk on the job.


    They may not have had a supporting set of docs following procedure so they layoff was the 'reason' for the release. Most times in the absecense of poor work product (not meeting quota for example) that is documented layoffs are done by seniority to avoid lawsuits like this.





    I am speculating that if he were a member of a designated 'victim' group /religion his treatmentment could have been different, they would have had more trepedation releasing him.





    In the employee handbook all companies above a certain size are required to have the policies and procedures should be clearly laid out, they should apply regardless of race sex religion. As stated above the disciplinary process up to and including termination should be explicitaly stated and followed with supporting documentation.

    This is how professional corporations handle this sort of issue.





    Large corps have very tight HR procedures to avoid lawsuits lawyers love companies with 'deep pockets'.



    The vast majority of people feel that way. It is possible that his workplace could be hostile to his religion race and so on, in that case he should be protected. Again proper HR procedures should be in place to avoid/identify these situations BEFORE they blow up.




    Depends on how long one name had existed, why the change was made, how he registered his objection, how the company handled it ect. The devil is in the details.




    Are you aware of the case in GB where a person was told not to wear a cross or be fored... There is a lot of hostility/ discrimination directed towards Christians these days. Seems there is always a group for people to direct their hostility towards, human nature I guess basic primate politics. Chimps to the Ivory tower primates are primates in their group behavior. Just a matter of whose ox is being gored.
     
  16. PatsWSB47

    PatsWSB47 Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    #12 Jersey

    I'm not dismissing he rest of your post because I agree with you but your last point reminds me of a time in my life 30+ years ago where a very close childhood friend of mine completely disowned me because i became involved with a church(that I long ago quit). He wouldn't talk to me but talked behind my back and felt somehow i threw my faith in everyones face. I think he assumed I must be jumping on a soapbox preaching unsolicited all over the place. So I confronted him. I asked him what have I done or said? He called me a few days later and apologized and admitted that he never heard a peep out of me about my faith. I think sometimes people are paranoid about what they think a religious person is just as they are when they think what a muslim, a homosexual or a minority is. Any overt action is hardly necessary and is overreacted to if even the slightest hint of witness of it is perceived. For example, wearing a cross and saying grace in the lunch room might be very threatening or offensive to someone and might stimulate a complaint.

    Personally speaking I have pretty much abandoned that faith but kind of feel weird that I feel/felt like i had to semi apologize for having it. Consider this. Knowing that a large number of people would dismiss you because you have faith is a little intimidating. Back then I think I kinda felt how like gays must feel like when they come out of the closet. Does that make sense? Religion is dying and I fear a lot of good and sincere people are being lumped in with the crazies.
     
  17. chicowalker

    chicowalker Pro Bowl Player

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    I don't think JPL is talking out of both sides of their mouth.

    He made an allegation specifically that he was laid off due to his religion. It would probably be a bad idea for JPL not to address the religious issues that have occurred, as it could then be portrayed that they were covering that up.

    He very well may have been warned, but his actions never got to the threshold of a fireable offense.

    As for hostility and discrimination toward Christians, that's a comical claim given how much pandering there is toward Christians in our nation, along with how much hostility and discrimination there is toward non-Christians (Muslims, Jews, atheists, etc.).
     
  18. PatsWSB47

    PatsWSB47 Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    #12 Jersey

    I dunno Chico. While I agree some people play the persecuted Christian "victim" card too much, religious righties have tainted a valid faith the same way radical muslims have tainted their faith....and things like this will only perpetuate it :

     
  19. PatsFanInVa

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    13, thanks for the thread title change. Also agree re: HR depts, in general. They are supposed to exist to establish procedures that keep you legally clean. But the legal principles are the reason for the HR dept.s, not vice versa.... so it's where the line is that matters. HR departments -- as repped by the company's lawyers -- are always in courts one one side of such debates. It's also the case that one can have an HR dept. or executive management that is basically of the mindset that they "do what they want," and then make a bunch of manuals basically to defend legally indefensible positions.

    But that doesn't look to be the case here. Like we've said, they really should just resist the fact that the guy opened the door by saying it's about his religion... to me they seem like they just have that card and are too undisciplined not to play it. You know, call someone in the company who doesn't think press can happen... and "gotcha." That could be the case here, or they could honestly not think they lose if they're playing his game (i.e., making it "about" his claim, rather than just supporting their assertion that it's a layoff pure and simple.)

    SB42, totally sympathize with that story. That's where it goes over the line in the other direction. I'd be a liar if I didn't admit that at least once in my life, I've thought "here we go..." the moment I realized someone had strong religious views. So it's not like plain old bigotry can't happen - you were sort of in the "bystander" role in the culture-war drivebys I guess. But that means the bullets were flying from the "tolerant" side in that particular foray, so thanks for bringing that one home. If you're not off trying to "step over the line" regarding someone else's rights they shouldn't be acting on those prejudices "by association" with others in your group that take aggessive stances.

    Good story for hubris reduction. thanks.

    PFnV
     
  20. PatsFanInVa

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    If we're playing "rank the bigotry" I think it's hard to rank, because the types of experiences are very different. To the extent you can rank, I agree w/you.

    But that said: I checked out 42's story, and think about it: if you're really not claiming a special right to control others' actions or to harass them -- as 42 is saying was his attitude -- then we who know about "most of that group's behavior" [sic] are doing wrong by judging that one person by reputation. So yes, that's just another kind of prejudice.

    I've seen the "anti-Christian bigotry card" played a lot lately, and a lot of it seems like there's a whole lot of work going into defining behaviors as "persecution." Like this case, if it were about his proselytizing rather than just a layoff. As I've said he seems like he's insisting his rights and disregarding others'.

    But then 42's story seems a pretty clear indicator that the "guilt by association" part of religious bigotry is probably pretty rife in society from the Christian point of view.

    However it's mixed in with "you're persecuting me by not accepting Jesus" type of reactions -- like these insistences on retro-naming various "Christmas" events and the 20 threads we have every winter about how saying "happy holidays" is a "war on Christmas."

    Thing is, what about those people who aren't culture warriors but get tarred with the same brush?

    Little food for thought, to me.
     

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