What do you say and do when your employer makes it clear that you must celebrate “pride month” in some manner the company has planned, upon pain of some implied or explicit adverse career consequence if you refuse? What are your religious freedom rights in the workplace?
A timely and short “question-and-answer” resource from the attorneys with First Liberty Institute is now available that answers some of the common questions Christians have as they navigate the sometimes tricky issues that arise in today’s workplaces.
The “Religious Liberty At Work Q&A” first gives an overview of the federal employment law known as Title VII that prohibits employers of 15 or more employees from violating the religious rights of their workers. Title VII also requires employers to grant what is called a “reasonable accommodation” to employees who ask for things like time off to attend religious observances, unless the accommodation would create an “undue hardship” for the employer.
Then the Q&A document asks and answers some of the most pressing questions affecting Christians in the workplace today. For example:
- Can I be required to attend diversity training if what it teaches violates my religious beliefs?
- Can I be required to use words, such as pronouns, in ways that violate my religious beliefs?
- Can I be punished for mentioning my religious beliefs in the workplace?
The relevance of this Q&A document is evidenced by two of First Liberty’s current clients, Lacey Smith and Marli Brown, longtime flight attendants for Alaska Airlines, who were fired for expressing their religious beliefs about the proposed Equality Act bill in Congress. The bill grants protected status for sexual orientation and gender identity in federal law while eliminating religious conscience rights granted under federal law with respect to those protected classes.
The company had expressed its support for the bill, and then invited its employees to comment on the company’s internal messaging platform. When the pair of flight attendants then questioned the wisdom of the airline supporting a bill that endangers the Church and suppresses religious freedom, they were fired.
First Liberty has sued Alaska Airlines on behalf of Smith and Brown.
In another employment case featuring religious freedom questions, First Liberty represents Coach Joe Kennedy, a public high school football coach in Washington state who was fired for praying silently after games on the 50-yard line to express his thanks to God for keeping the players safe. That case is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court, and a decision is expected any day now.
The bottom line for Christians in the workplace, according to First Liberty, is that religious employees are a protected class under federal and state anti-discrimination laws, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But employers do not always honor that legal obligation to their employees, who should be aware of their legal rights and be ready to defend them.
If you find yourself in a workplace situation involving questions concerning your religious freedom, First Liberty invites you to contact them for legal help.
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