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lilwriter85

Construction Worker Sues Company, Says He Was Fired For Not Attending Bible Study

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lilwriter85

https://www.npr.org/2018/08/30/643341736/construction-worker-sues-company-says-he-was-fired-for-not-attending-bible-study

 

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August 30, 20188:28 PM ET

SASHA INGBER

 

A man in Oregon says he was fired from a construction job because he did not want to attend weekly Bible study meetings.

Ryan Coleman, 34, filed an $800,000 lawsuit last week against Dahled Up Construction, a company based in Albany, an hour south of Portland.

According to the complaint, he was hired as a painter in October 2017 and discovered on the job that he was required to attend Christian Bible study as part of his employment.

 

 

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anjulibai
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Kent Hickam, the attorney representing Dahl, told NPR that the suit was without merit. "We believe that this requirement was not illegal," Hickam said. "These are at-will employees and they were paid to go. It was part of their job, so they were expected to attend."

They aren't even denying that they did it. :pensive:

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Briefly

I read that article last night, I was wondering if somebody would post it here.  It really makes me mad.  If somebody wants to read the Bible or have a study session, then fine.  If somebody doesn't, then fine.  But to make it a condition of employment is wrong, wrong, wrong.  I don't think the at-will thing covers that.  I was in HR for many years in Texas, an at-will state, and I'm pretty sure it was not an acceptable reason!  Pretty sure is sarcastic, I know it wouldn't have been acceptable.  I hope that they are held accountable, but I hope that the other employees are not suddenly out a job.

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HarryPotterFan

I can see the Supreme Court deciding that it’s okay for an employee to be forced to go to Bible study because FREEDOM, but then shitting bricks if a company Andy Qua’aran study mandatory. 

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JermajestyDuggar

Found him on FB. The cross in his logo is a nice touch. The owner is also 3 years clean and sober. I’m guessing he found Jesus when he got clean. Good for you dude. But don’t push your religion on your employees. 

EB70CB17-926E-4F69-97A1-F4A0E6679091.jpeg

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delphinium65

So the religious freedom folks are all over this, right?  How dare an employer impose his religion on an employee!  It's like a Christian government employee having to hand out marriages licenses to same sex couples...or being told that you can't make wedding cakes for 'traditional' weddings only...or taking part in Muslim observances while on the job.  Right?...right??!  *crickets*  :pb_rollseyes:  

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AuntKrazy

I'm not at all sure where I stand on this one, to be honest.  The same libertarian leanings that believe Kaepernick should be free kneel during the anthem would also defend the right for the business owner to do what he/she wishes with his/her own company, so long as the company is privately funded.

Pragmatically, I see it as maybe the one way the business owner learns from experience that faith and belief cannot be dictated to others.

I once worked for a company that was tobacco-free.  Anyone caught possessing or using tobacco on the business premises was terminated immediately.  We had to sit through an American Lung Association presentation regularly, too.  Every employee had to sign a statement agreeing to the policy during the interview process.

I would think that this case, it's really a matter of disclosure.  If it's an up front requirement agreed upon when the job is accepted, then I think it should be protected under our first amendment freedoms - whether we like it happening or not.  

 

 

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Briefly
5 hours ago, JermajestyDuggar said:

Found him on FB. The cross in his logo is a nice touch. The owner is also 3 years clean and sober. I’m guessing he found Jesus when he got clean. Good for you dude. But don’t push your religion on your employees. 

EB70CB17-926E-4F69-97A1-F4A0E6679091.jpeg

We have made it a point to avoid companies that advertise as being Christian, if it's heavily pushed on their advertising, etc. because of a so-called Christian company we got a roofing quote from.  After telling how strongly Christian the owner is, how good of a person he is, how he donates so much to his church, etc., the man we talked to (the owner's father-in-law) then told us how he would lie to the insurance company for us on the amount so that we could get more $$ back.  We just said no thanks to them right then.

 

 

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katilac

I have no sensible response because his name is distracting me. All I can think of is Catherine Dahl from the trashy Flowers in the Attic  series. 

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Jana814

I feel really bad for the guy. I would be really uncomfortable if I worked for a company who insisted that I attend a weekly Bible study.  

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AuntKrazy

@Jana814

Honest question here - do you think it matters if it was disclosed up front? If it was "as owner, I believe in having company devotional weekly. Because I do not want any favoritism, or retaliation shown among employees who may have differing beliefs, attendance is on the clock and mandatory for all employees." 

 

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RainbowSky

If it was disclosed before signing hiring paperwork, I'm not sure where to stand on it. If it wasn't, as this article seems to say, then that's shitty to spring anything mandatory on someone after hiring and shouldn't be allowed.

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AlwaysExcited

Tbh, I'd have a problem with a company making Bible study mandatory even if it's discussed in a job interview. The whole idea seems rather bizarre, but that might be a cultural difference.

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HarryPotterFan
1 hour ago, AlwaysExcited said:

Tbh, I'd have a problem with a company making Bible study mandatory even if it's discussed in a job interview. The whole idea seems rather bizarre, but that might be a cultural difference.

Same. And it’s illegal to discriminate based on religion during the hiring process, which requiring Bible study essentially does.

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AuntKrazy

I'm not sure that requiring attendance for all employees is considered discrimination.  I believe Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964 also only applies to workplaces with 15 or more full time employees.  Each state would have separate statutes and requirements.

I think the standard would have to be if a "reasonable" person would consider being required to listen to Bible verses "harassment", and if the "Bible study" was a passive activity.   

And I really hope as a culture that we do not begin defining passive listening of readings as harassment because I don't believe a person reading from the Koran or the Torah or the Bible or the Bhagavad Gita or philosophy from Buddha or any ideas constitute harassment, whether or not I agree or disagree with them.  For example, one of my city councilmen is a boy scout troop leader.  His troop participated by presenting colors and opening up one of the council meetings last year.  One of the young men read a passage of the Koran speaking about establishing peace.  This kind of speech should be protected, imho.

I think if I begin calling Bible readings offensive, then I have to call public Koran readings offensive, etc. too.  Yes, the employee has rights.  But so does the business owner.  I'm not sure we want to start interfering with the application of one's faith in the private sector.  To me, the consequences of behavior would simply be addressed by those who are employed taking their skills elsewhere and the employer being unable to find qualified workers unless he stops the Bible study practice.  (again, my libertarian leanings) - 

For me, the more I think about it, the more I think it would needs to be about up-front disclosure.  I worry that otherwise, we toss out freedom of speech because we are too busy trying to mitigate consequences.

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Coy Koi
3 hours ago, AuntKrazy said:

I think if I begin calling Bible readings offensive, then I have to call public Koran readings offensive, etc. too.

It has nothing to do with them being public, and everything to do with them being mandatory. None of it is offensive when people choose to attend. All of it is offensive when they do not.

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AuntKrazy
1 hour ago, Coy Koi said:

It has nothing to do with them being public, and everything to do with them being mandatory. None of it is offensive when people choose to attend. All of it is offensive when they do not.

This is why I think that if it had been disclosed up front - then I would see it as within the exercise of freedom.  I believe it would be a choice at that point.

 

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Coy Koi
1 minute ago, AuntKrazy said:

This is why I think that if it had been disclosed up front - then I would see it as within the exercise of freedom.  I believe it would be a choice at that point.

But, as it was pointed about above, it's unconstitutional to discriminate based on religion during the hiring process, too. Would it be okay to require employees to attend paid KKK meetings, as long as it was disclosed before they were hired? Of course not.

Maybe you think it's okay because it would be so rare that it would not have a huge effect on many people. And I imagine that is true at this point. Would it have been true right after the Civil Rights Act was passed? I'm going to say no.

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AuntKrazy
2 hours ago, Coy Koi said:

Maybe you think it's okay because it would be so rare that it would not have a huge effect on many people. And I imagine that is true at this point. Would it have been true right after the Civil Rights Act was passed? I'm going to say no.

And yet Brietbert is allowed to pay their employees. . .<sarc>

I just think that we tend to make choices that give freedom to only one side of the equation. I tend to believe there is room for both those who have faith which compel them to public practices as well as those who do not. 

 

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Walking Cat Bed

The only time where I've seen a belief requirement on a job posting has been at religious schools/churches. It's reasonable to expect that faculty at a Catholic school, for example, share the beliefs of the organization they represent, or that everyone associated with a Christian college attends a certain number of chapel services. However, congregants/parents assume that the church or school's staff share their beliefs; it's reasonable to expect that the people responsible for specific jobs are following similar standards. I can't tell y'all how many job listings I've closed because there's a "statement of faith" clause.

But this is a construction company. Religious beliefs have no impact on employees' ability to complete construction jobs. Unlike a school environment, where seeing teachers at a chapel service reinforces the "culture", requiring employees to attend Bible study doesn't add anything. It has nothing to do with the job. 

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HarryPotterFan

Someone reading one passage from one religious text at an optional non-religious event, where the intention isn’t to promote a specific religion/belief/Gd but to talk about a concept such as peace is insanely different than requiring Bible study. One is talking about a concept that isn’t related to a specific religion and is optional, one is a REQUIRMENT you have to do over and over and does promote a specific religion. One doesn’t require you to be a certain religion, one does.

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Hane

A bit OT: About 20 years ago, the small local telecomm company I worked for was acquired by SBC (now renamed AT&T), a company based in Texas. In poking around the new company’s internal website, I was surprised to see links and references to all kinds of “Christian business” professional groups sponsored by the company. This came as a huge shock to this Northeasterner!

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formergothardite
On 9/5/2018 at 1:52 PM, AuntKrazy said:

"reasonable" person would consider being required to listen to Bible verses "harassment", and if the "Bible study" was a passive activity.   

For me it would be. I'm pretty reasonable but a Bible study would be awful to me because of what the Bible has done to my life. I have no need or desire to study it. I live in a fairly small town, if I needed a job there wouldn't be a lot of options and why should I have to choose between the trauma of forced religious study to get a job or going without a job and plunging into poverty because some folks think they own their employees to the point they can cram religion down their throats. A Bible study would be a constant reminder of something that hurt me, I think that can be viewed as harassment. 

If a company wants to host a Bible study and invite people to come but those who choose not to aren't punishment, IMO would be giving freedom to all sides and providing room for all people of faiths or not faiths. A Jewish person shouldn't have to sit through a Bible study on why they killed Jesus and are going to hell. That would for sure be creating an environment of harassment. Same for an atheist. Or really anyone of any religion. A Christian shouldn't have to sit through a weekly lecture by his atheist boss on why Christians are dumb. 

Edited by formergothardite
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AuntKrazy

I want to say, for the record, I mostly agree with what is being said here.  I don't think that it's right to mandate people attend these things.  But for me, I don't think the government is good at helping people choose what is right.  I think something can be legal but not morally right.

I'm just very cautious about criminalizing behavior, and interested in trying to find maybe better solutions.  I think there is room for things being morally wrong but not criminal.  I want some grey areas because I think that's the only way we really have freedom.

My biggest point was that we don't really know what the "Bible study" mentioned was or looked like.  We don't know if was a verse and time to pray quietly or something else entirely. I don't know where it fell on a spectrum.  And I believe there is a spectrum.  

I understand how people feel prohibited from speaking about their faith can feel like the 1st amendment protections applies to everyone else but them.  I tend to think that interference by the government may at times fuels the fundamentalist claim of "persecuted!" instead of being a call to increased sensitivity towards others, which I believe is what we all want in this situation.

Perhaps I'm too optimistic in my belief that people can learn and change and grow. I want to believe that this business owner would learn to be compassionate towards those who do not share his beliefs through kindness more than anything else.

 

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formergothardite
1 hour ago, AuntKrazy said:

  I want some grey areas because I think that's the only way we really have freedom.

That is all fine and dandy until you are one of the people who is hurt by the grey area. We already say businesses can't say that because of the owners beliefs they refuse to hire women or POC. Why not also say businesses can't force employees to participate in religious indoctrination? 

It doesn't matter how long the Bible study is, what matters is that employees are forced to participate in a weekly religious event against their will. 

1 hour ago, AuntKrazy said:

I understand how people feel prohibited from speaking about their faith can feel like the 1st amendment protections applies to everyone else but them. 

Not being able to use the power of a job to force people into studying your religion is hardly being prohibited from speaking about your faith. 

1 hour ago, AuntKrazy said:

I want to believe that this business owner would learn to be compassionate towards those who do not share his beliefs through kindness more than anything else.

I highly doubt that will happen, and while we are waiting around for compassion to kick in should people just suffer? 

1 hour ago, AuntKrazy said:

I tend to think that interference by the government may at times fuels the fundamentalist claim of "persecuted!" instead of being a call to increased sensitivity towards others, which I believe is what we all want in this situation.

Have you seen the reaction to calls of increased sensitivity? It hasn't exactly been a success and just causes them to scream persecution. I don't see saying "It is really hurtful to turn away gay couples, can you be nicer." would do shit for all the bakers who want to do so. 

1 hour ago, AuntKrazy said:

We don't know if was a verse and time to pray quietly or something else entirely. I don't know where it fell on a spectrum. 

It was an hour long and the guy attended at first until it whatever was happening was too offensive to his own religious beliefs. 

ETA: He attended for six months. Why would we think a guy who was willing to fire someone he knew would struggle to find another job would suddenly become compassionate about this if he is just allowed to continue? The only way this guy will stop is if he is forced to do so. 

Edited by formergothardite
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