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Can Employees Be Legally Terminated For Refusing To Attend Religious Services?

sgtrock21sgtrock21 Senior MemberPosts: 1,933 Senior Member

I know employees of religious organizations may have this requirement as a condition of employment. This concerns a construction company. On TV news the employer's attorney stated that this was a generous opportunity for the employees on his time. I always thought an "opportunity" was an offer not a requirement. Of course the Godfather giving you an "Offer you can't refuse" is different.

https://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2018/08/lawsuit_oregon_construction_wo.html


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Replies

  • zorbazorba Senior Member Posts: 25,033 Senior Member
    Oh boy...
    -Zorba, "The Veiled Male"

    "If you get it and didn't work for it, someone else worked for it and didn't get it..."
    )O(
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,813 Senior Member
    I suppose they could have you sign an agreement, as part of your terms of employment, but either way, if they insist that you do it and you don't, they can come up with ways to chase you off.
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 18,137 Senior Member
    Yeah....well...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • jbp-ohiojbp-ohio Senior Member Posts: 10,693 Senior Member
    NO........... Religion is one of the Federally protected against discrimination categories.... but you may have to have the money to go to court.

    Under Federal law, employers generally cannot discriminate against employees on the basis of:

    • Race
    • Sex
    • Pregnacy
    • Religion
    • National Origin
    • Disability
    • Age (over 40)
    • Military service
    • Bankrupcy
    • Genetic information
    • Citizenship status
    "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." Thomas Jefferson
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 18,137 Senior Member
    As soon as the guy told me that bible study was a requirement to work for him, I'd be looking elsewhere for work... Cramming your religious beliefs down others others  doesn't fly in my world
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    We were given the chance to go to the post chapel on Fort Knox or stay in the barracks and work for the DI or Cadre in Basic/AIT..........so on Sundays for an hour or two, you bet I went.

    Didn't really have to attend a service unless you wanted to. Had a day-room like area with free coffee and a Coke machine you could get a can of beer fer a quarter. But I think we weren't allowed beer until much later just before graduation. Heck we couldn't even have a Coke in the mess hall for the first 6 weeks.

    I would tell that company if I practiced the same religion that is wrong, although I appreciate the offer.

    The employees should be given the choice to use the time for anything they wanted.  
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • zorbazorba Senior Member Posts: 25,033 Senior Member
    Doubtful.  Did any of you guys read the whole article?  The employer requires his guys to attend a bible study class which is done during working hours, one hour a week and he pays his guys for the time.  He’s hiring ex-cons and giving them a second chance.   hardly a douche...

    Doesn't matter, what this employer is doing is highly illegal - as it should be. Its called "Creating a hostile workplace" among other things.

    Now the plaintiff may or may not be the biggest scumbag on earth, and the defendant may be a wonderful person - I don't know - but what was done is still highly illegal - and unethical as far as I'm concerned.

    Don't think so? Substitute the word "Koran" for "Bible" and read it again.
    -Zorba, "The Veiled Male"

    "If you get it and didn't work for it, someone else worked for it and didn't get it..."
    )O(
  • earlyagainearlyagain Posts: 7,928 Senior Member
    It does kind of smell like exploitation of a group of perspective employees that begin their service from a compromised position.

    Likely a common practice that hides in the dark corners of our society with a whole host of others that get justified as ok because the victims baught their own ticket.
  • sgtrock21sgtrock21 Senior Member Posts: 1,933 Senior Member
    Doubtful.  Did any of you guys read the whole article?  The employer requires his guys to attend a bible study class which is done during working hours, one hour a week and he pays his guys for the time.  He’s hiring ex-cons and giving them a second chance.   hardly a douche...

    Plus I’d love to find out how this guy came up with the $800,000 figure he’s suing for.  I’ve had much better grounds for suing an employer for compensation owed than this guy ever will and VERY good lawyers told me not to waste my time...
    I read the whole article 3 times. The ex-con employer's life was turned around by Jesus and he is trying to share the wealth. Overall a noble cause. Unfortunately for him as posted by jbp-ohio forcing employees to participate in services of his religion as an undocumented (a pre-employment signed agreement might be OK) condition of employment is in violation of federal workplace discrimination (religion) law based on the first amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America. If the employee is about 40 years old and grosses about $30,000 per year his potential earnings by retirement age would be about $800,000. Fat chance he will get anything after the lawyers get theirs. If I were him I would thank the employer for firing me for no legitimate cause making it easy to collect unemployment insurance.  

  • BufordBuford Senior Member Posts: 6,721 Senior Member
    What is the employer doing wrong?  The guy knew the rules going in yet he accepted the job and now he is pissing and moaning.  Don't like the job requirements go elsewhere it's what I tell mine.
    Just look at the flowers Lizzie, just look at the flowers.
  • VarmintmistVarmintmist Senior Member Posts: 7,988 Senior Member
    Any boss can make you go to any meeting he is paying you to attend. He is not requiring then to convert, just go and sit while being paid.
    It's boring, and your lack of creativity knows no bounds.
  • sgtrock21sgtrock21 Senior Member Posts: 1,933 Senior Member
    sgtrock21 said:
    Doubtful.  Did any of you guys read the whole article?  The employer requires his guys to attend a bible study class which is done during working hours, one hour a week and he pays his guys for the time.  He’s hiring ex-cons and giving them a second chance.   hardly a douche...

    Plus I’d love to find out how this guy came up with the $800,000 figure he’s suing for.  I’ve had much better grounds for suing an employer for compensation owed than this guy ever will and VERY good lawyers told me not to waste my time...
    I read the whole article 3 times. The ex-con employer's life was turned around by Jesus and he is trying to share the wealth. Overall a noble cause. Unfortunately for him as posted by jbp-ohio forcing employees to participate in services of his religion as an undocumented (a pre-employment signed agreement might be OK) condition of employment is in violation of federal workplace discrimination (religion) law based on the first amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America. If the employee is about 40 years old and grosses about $30,000 per year his potential earnings by retirement age would be about $800,000. Fat chance he will get anything after the lawyers get theirs. If I were him I would thank the employer for firing me for no legitimate cause making it easy to collect unemployment insurance.  

    The only way to collect on that premise is to prove that the actions of the defendant have caused a denial of future earnings, AND, that you were in fact assured such earnings.  The employer has not done anything to prevent him from getting another job so it’s impossible for this guy to sue him for future wages.  And as an ex-con his prospects for employment an future earnings are at best a crap shoot and difficult to calculate.   Any second rate lawyer should be able to get this suit dismissed in one hearing.

    At worst the employer will be fined by the government for discrimination which for a small employer it’s no more than $50,000.



    You are 100% correct. I was only attempting my best guess regarding your question of how the former employee arrived at the $800,000 number. He has no chance of hitting the jackpot and would not get a dime of any government fine. A shyster could possibly string him along thinking he could get some kind of compensation when he would just end up owing their fees. That is why I suggested he just file for unemployment insurance and move on. This "case" has some similarity to the mom and pop bakery also in Oregon refusing to bake the lesbian wedding cake for religious reasons. The business was fined $130,000 by the state for workplace discrimination (sexual orientation) which was completely bogus as that law is meant to protect employees. The business was a true mom and pop operation with zero employees! Last I heard they are suing the state for a refund of the fine. Well. Good luck suing the government. 
  • sgtrock21sgtrock21 Senior Member Posts: 1,933 Senior Member
    Buford said:
    What is the employer doing wrong?  The guy knew the rules going in yet he accepted the job and now he is pissing and moaning.  Don't like the job requirements go elsewhere it's what I tell mine.


    This Washington Post article which appeared on the internet this morning has a bit more information.

    http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/he-said-he-wouldn’t-join-his-company’s-bible-study-after-being-let-go-he’s-suing/ar-BBMKsBg?li=BBnb7Kz

    Coleman said he didn't learn about the Bible sessions until after he started working for Dahl. Coleman told The Post that he first asked Dahl if he could schedule appointments or other meetings during the Bible study hour so he wouldn't have to miss work. Dahl's response, Coleman said, was that there was no other option and that Coleman had to be there.

  • bullsi1911bullsi1911 Moderator Posts: 12,068 Senior Member
    cpj said:
    knitepoet said:
    A LOT of it depends on that state's laws.

    I've been "forced" to go to ALL sorts of meetings over the years. And I am quite certain I would have been fired if I refused to go


    But, none of your meetings were religion  based. 

    At my last company, the investors words were treated like the word of God.  So our weekly sales meeting acted like religion.  The Sales kickoff was like a tent revival... CAN I GET AN AMEN?!?!?!

    From what I have heard of the story (the Bible study was implemented after the dude was hired), the company does not have a leg to stand on.  Its was not a condition of employment, and no reasonable accommodation for someone of different belief.  

    The company will lose.
    To make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complex.
    -Mikhail Kalashnikov
  • JermanatorJermanator Senior Member Posts: 16,244 Senior Member
    $800,000? So the actual damages are probably much less than that, I am wondering how much of that total is punitive damages? I think that would explain the amount.

    And yea, the guy was clearly fired because of his religious beliefs. That is against the law. This guy is getting paid.
    Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.
    -Thomas Paine
  • JermanatorJermanator Senior Member Posts: 16,244 Senior Member
    edited September 2018 #17
    Inflating the claim is also a tactic to get them to settle for a lesser amount. If you ask for $50,000, they will offer $30,000. Ask for $Zillion, maybe they will offer $50,000.
    Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.
    -Thomas Paine
  • zorbazorba Senior Member Posts: 25,033 Senior Member
    cpj said:
    But, none of your meetings were religion  based. 

    Yep. Everybody here knows how I feel about monotheistic hegemony, so I'll spare everyone the rant, including myself.

    I'm just surprised that some still think they can pull stuff like this, particularly employers.
    -Zorba, "The Veiled Male"

    "If you get it and didn't work for it, someone else worked for it and didn't get it..."
    )O(
  • Old RonOld Ron Senior Member Posts: 4,355 Senior Member
    Just another way to take advantage of people that made a mistake.
  • sgtrock21sgtrock21 Senior Member Posts: 1,933 Senior Member
    Only since 1964. Before that you could fire anyone without a reason.
  • JermanatorJermanator Senior Member Posts: 16,244 Senior Member
    edited September 2018 #21
    I find it fascinating that the government is entitled to tell the owner of a private business how to run his own company.
    While I can empathize with that, it has been a law for as long as I can remember. A million other ways to fire a person do exist without getting burnt for religious discrimination. Too bad the business owner wasn't watching his butt. He opened himself up to a huge liability. 
    Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.
    -Thomas Paine
  • zorbazorba Senior Member Posts: 25,033 Senior Member

    The argument can be made that denying the employer the ability to conduct his business in line with his religious beliefs would also be a violation of his 1st amendment as just happened in CO.
    This type of argument is only promulgated by Christianists, Islamists, and similar. People have all the freedom of religion they want/need/are entitled to. What they DO NOT HAVE, is the freedom to impose their religion on others - see my monotheist rant. The Hobby Lobby fiasco is yet another example of this. Once again, change the word "Bible study" to "Koran study" (or whatever), and read the article again. Is that what you REALLY want? You can't have it both ways.
    -Zorba, "The Veiled Male"

    "If you get it and didn't work for it, someone else worked for it and didn't get it..."
    )O(
  • jbp-ohiojbp-ohio Senior Member Posts: 10,693 Senior Member
    cpj said:
    The guy filing suit wasn’t too bright. Being an ex-con makes it hard to get a job. Being an ex-con who is suing a former employer who was sympathetic to ex-cons.....doesn’t look good on on a job application. 
    How would a new employer know? In a few months his name will be forgotten. Old employer is not allowed to say the guy was even fired. Much less why...........
    "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." Thomas Jefferson
  • bullsi1911bullsi1911 Moderator Posts: 12,068 Senior Member
    jbp-ohio said:
    cpj said:
    The guy filing suit wasn’t too bright. Being an ex-con makes it hard to get a job. Being an ex-con who is suing a former employer who was sympathetic to ex-cons.....doesn’t look good on on a job application. 
    How would a new employer know? In a few months his name will be forgotten. Old employer is not allowed to say the guy was even fired. Much less why...........
    Google the name is a VERY common pre-hire practice.  That’s how a future employer will know
    To make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complex.
    -Mikhail Kalashnikov
  • zorbazorba Senior Member Posts: 25,033 Senior Member
    jbp-ohio said:
    How would a new employer know? In a few months his name will be forgotten. Old employer is not allowed to say the guy was even fired. Much less why...........
    Old employer is not allowed to do what he did, but he did it anyway. Obviously, old employer doesn't care about ethics, so there ya go!
    -Zorba, "The Veiled Male"

    "If you get it and didn't work for it, someone else worked for it and didn't get it..."
    )O(
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 9,382 Senior Member
    Gotta side with CPJ and Zorba on this one.  I'd be awarding the guy considerably MORE than the $800,000 he's asking for, purely as a "nuking the site from orbit" example to others, then court-ordering the employer to have "CLUELESS SUPER-DOUCHE" tattooed on his forehead - - though I'm presently undecided if that should be written backwards so he can read it every time he looks in the mirror, or normally for all the world to immediately comprehend when they look at him.

    Even if religious studies were promoted as an unpaid, off-hours, voluntary option, I am EXTREMELY resistant to that sort of thing being bandied about in any workplace capacity.  When the active subscribers to the philosophy (or faking, conniving boot-lickers) become the ones getting promotions, overtime opportunities, or other lucky breaks, this equals hostile workplace with a captial "H".

    Since the guy was hiring folks with a history that can make seeking employment elsewhere difficult, and then holding their livelihood hostage while subjecting them to his world view, maybe the "CLUELESS SUPER-DOUCHE" needs to be branded instead of tattooed. . .
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • zorbazorba Senior Member Posts: 25,033 Senior Member
    No, this “argument” was just tested to the Supreme Court and is absolutely in line with the First amendment.  And see above for my take on it...  
    And I disagree vehemently with it. "Freedom of religion" seems to mean one thing to monotheists and something else to everyone else.

    BUT - my opinion, combined with yours, plus $1.00 will get you a cup of coffee at McDonald's!

    -Zorba, "The Veiled Male"

    "If you get it and didn't work for it, someone else worked for it and didn't get it..."
    )O(
  • VarmintmistVarmintmist Senior Member Posts: 7,988 Senior Member
    I find it interesting that some of the exact same people who were ranting about FB because their company culture was not sufficiently accepting and open to conserve views also think it's completely fine to force employees to attend Bible study or be fired.
    The difference is huge. FB would not allow the employee to THINK differently. They could require ALL employees to listen to Mya Angelou every Thursday at work while being paid to be there, but they cannot FORCE the employee to enjoy commie poetry.
    It's boring, and your lack of creativity knows no bounds.
  • zorbazorba Senior Member Posts: 25,033 Senior Member
    I'm not understanding either. I'm sure its an intelligent question, but I'm not getting it right now...
    -Zorba, "The Veiled Male"

    "If you get it and didn't work for it, someone else worked for it and didn't get it..."
    )O(
  • JermanatorJermanator Senior Member Posts: 16,244 Senior Member
    I smell what you are stepping in Wambli, but I have serious doubts The Supremes are going to overturn major civil rights legislation even if Trump nominated all 9 of the justices.
    Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.
    -Thomas Paine
  • JermanatorJermanator Senior Member Posts: 16,244 Senior Member
    And I am not so sure you would like the results.
    Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.
    -Thomas Paine
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