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Interesting article in the Telegraph;

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  • #21
    Originally posted by Equibrit View Post
    Are you familiar with these documents ?
    Again, without taking a position on this, and only to correct a common public misconception, the U.S. Constitution has nothing to do with this. The Constitution protects only against actions taken against individuals by the federal and state governments, not by private employers. Generally speaking, in this particular context employment protections provided to employees of private employers derive from state law, which varies across all 50 states. One does not have "free speech" or "free association" rights under the Constitution with respect to a private employer.


    • #22
      Originally posted by Equibrit View Post
      Your point ?
      Are you familiar with these documents ?

      I can't add to what the employment law attorney has said so far.


      • Original Poster

        I think this is a federal body.

        The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also illegal to discriminate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.
        ... _. ._ .._. .._


        • #24
          Originally posted by Equibrit View Post
          I think this is a federal body.

          The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also illegal to discriminate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.
          All true, but this continues to miss the point, and the very reference cited demonstrates it. I did not mean this to be a civics lesson, but so be it. The EEOC (which I deal with on a near-daily basis) is a federal administrative agency. It does not make the law, nor does it have any power to interpret the law, which is the job of the courts. It is charged with enforcing certain federal anti-discrimination laws passed by Congress. The EEOC often takes positions that are aspirational and its positions are sometimes rejected by the courts. Just because the EEOC says something in its Compliance Manual does not make it law; it advocates a specific position on what it believes (or wants) the law to be, and sometimes its positions change, depending upon the presidential administration in charge of the agency.

          The actual basis for the proscription on religious discrimination is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal statute. The Federal Courts interpret that statute and have the final say-so on what it means, not the EEOC. Not all political positions/beliefs/personal philosophies are protected by Title VII; indeed, most are not, and even the EEOC acknowledges this. In the materials you cited, "Example 6" is most like the situation in the Telegraph article.

          To be protected, an anti-hunting stance would have to part of a much wider comprehensive and articulable belief system not limited to that particular issue that is religious in character. "One dimensional" and "single-faceted" issue-based viewpoints are not considered "religious" and not protected. A belief system does not have to be theist at all, but it does have to have some of the the trappings and characteristics of a religion -- particularly comprehensiveness -- to be protected.

          The test most often used examines whether the "religious" belief is one that: (1) addresses fundamental and ultimate questions having to do with deep and imponderable matters; (2) is part of a religion that is comprehensive in nature and consists of a belief system as opposed to an isolated teaching; and (3) can be recognized by the presence of certain formal and external signs.

          The reason the courts take a very hard look at professed "religions" in this way is that anyone can try to characterize a particular viewpoint as "religious" without much effort.

          For example, someone on the political right might have a deeply held personal philosophy that the government should not be able to tax its citizens (like Ron Paul). Someone on the far left might have a deeply held belief that all wealth must be shared equally. Are those religious beliefs protected by Title VII?

          Most courts say no; and for good reason -- when you start characterizing personal beliefs that are discrete from some sort of comprehensive belief system as religion, you start protecting everything under the sun, which would lead to chaos. For example, the Ku Klux Klan has tried to argue that it is a "religion" -- a stance that was rejected by the courts; the KKK was considered to be a political and social organization, not a religious one. The same could be said of PETA, or the Sierra Club, or any number of issue-based organizations whose members have deeply held beliefs.

          It is fear of this slippery slope which makes courts -- the actual government body that interprets the law (not the EEOC) act very carefully when characterizing a specific political viewpoint as "religion" subject to protection.

          In one fairly close example, the California Court of Appeals refused to characterize veganism as a "religious belief" under a state statute that parallels Title VII, despite the plaintiff's sincerely held belief that any use of animals was wrong.

          If the person at issue in the Telegraph article lived in the U.S., was a Hindu who held a religion-based belief that all life is sacred and all killing is wrong, and was terminated because she was Hindu, then you'd have a point. But a political activist who participates in activities that are discrete from any particular religious practice is not protected, even if based upon a deeply-held belief of what is right or wrong; based upon the article, this is what the employee in question appears to be.

          This is a nuanced area, and courts struggle over the close calls, especially where a professed religious belief is not mainstream. You can't get a good understanding of how this aspect of Title VII works without reading multiple cases on the subject (or better yet, litigating one) -- certainly not by just reading a non-binding EEOC document in a vacuum. People make the same arguments you are making all the time, based upon the same sources -- the argument itself is not illegitimate. It is just rejected 99 times out of 100. Without more, few courts would consider a typical issue-based anti-hunting stance to be a "religion" protected under Title VII.

          Employers in most states have significant leeway in terminating an employee for whatever reason they want, and Title VII generally does not protect political or social views. Again, I am not saying this is right or wrong; it is just the way it is.

          Sorry for the long post; it just seems that there is considerable misunderstanding in this area, even by smart and educated people. Hopefully this helps to illuminate it some.
          Last edited by Peregrine Farm; Dec. 27, 2011, 11:09 PM.


          • Original Poster

            Originally posted by mildot View Post


            Thank God here in America such a tool would be laughed out of civil court for such a case.
            So - the case COULD be made in the USA, depending on all the FACTS, to which we (in this instance) have not been made made privy.
            ... _. ._ .._. .._


            • #26
              Originally posted by Equibrit View Post
              So - the case COULD be made in the USA, depending on the FACTS, to which we have not been made privy.
              Go back and re-read everything Peregine Farm posted, really carefully.