I believe that everyone's relationship with God (whether
you call that deity Yahweh, Jesus, Allah, Vishnu, Buddha, or something else) is
personal. I have no opinion on your spiritual relationship, as should you have
none on mine. Thus, I get mad whenever someone tries to shove their religious
beliefs down my throat. Not only do I not care, but I can guarantee that you
will not change my mind. Proselytism is one small step removed from fanaticism,
and rarely, if ever, has anything good come from religious fanaticism.
I share the above as prologue to today's discussion,
which centers on Hall v. Tift County Hosp. (M.D. Ga. 6/10/13) [an enhanced version of this opinion is available to lexis.com
subscribers]. In that case, the court rejected an employee's
religious discrimination case stemming from discipline for sending a
Christian-themed email sent to a gay co-worker.
Pamela Hall, a Baptist, learned that one of the her
co-workers, Amanda Dix, was a ***. Believing that she had a duty to save
Dix from the "sin" of "homosexuality," Hall placed a pamphlet, entitled, "How
Should Christians Respond to 'Gay' Marriage?" in Dix's locker. Rightfully
concerned that Dix would ignore the pamphlet, Hall sent her a follow-up email,
which said in part:
I saw that book in Kentucky when we went to the creation
museum. I don't want to hurt your feelings but I felt led to leave that for you
and I would not be a true friend if I ignore the responsibility that God has
left for his children to share the message and hold each other accountable....
Sodomy is a sin, gay people live in sin. It is not about self gratification....
When we are in God's will we will WANT to live right and live for him and do
what the Bible says and that is to go and tell! Everything else is not
important.... There is only one way to heaven.
Dix complained to management, which investigated and
demoted Hall from her supervisory position. In her lawsuit, Hall alleged that
when the HR Administrator communicated the demotion, she said, "We could not
share our faith at work. We could not talk about Jesus at work."
Hall claimed that discipline for discussing religion at
work discriminated against her because of her religion. In dismissing Hall's
case, the court disagreed.
Other employees have been disciplined for sending
offensive or harassing emails. Two employees were terminated in April of 2009
for distribution of racial, ethnic, and religious materials in the form of an
email that was offensive to other employees. The email makes specific reference
to Islam, blacks, black Muslims, and Hispanics....
The question is whether Plaintiff was discriminated
against because of her religion - was she discriminated against because she is
a Christian? Without producing evidence of a non-Christian employee in the same
job being treated differently after engaging in the same activity, Plaintiff
cannot establish a prima facie case.
As I've said before, religious proselytization does not belong in the workplace.
If you permit one employee to share his or her religious views in the
workplace, you will have a difficult time disciplining or terminating another
for the same reason. Employers and their employees should keep religion where
it belongs-in the home and in places of worship.
Visit the Ohio Employer's Law Blog for more
Presented by Kohrman Jackson & Krantz,
with offices in Cleveland and Columbus. For more information, contact Jon Hyman, a
partner in our Labor
& Employment group, at (216) 736-7226 or email@example.com.
For more information about LexisNexis
products and solutions connect with us through our corporate site.