Are employees legally required to attend a diversity-training program that violates their sincerely held religious beliefs?
Your employer should have given you advance notice of the nature of the training; there's no doubt about that. You have the right to opt out of objectionable diversity training if it violates your sincerely held religious beliefs. Generally, I tell people required to attend a diversity-training program to go to the human resources department and find out the curriculum for the program. After reviewing the program, inform them of any parts that violate your sincerely held religious beliefs. Remember the key words: "my sincerely held religious beliefs." Legally, if the training violates your sincerely held religious beliefs, they have to allow you to opt out. In this case, they probably did violate what's called Title VII, by requiring you to participate in a program that violates your sincerely held religious beliefs without advance notice. You have the right to opt out in the future. For now, I would notify the human resources department in writing that you feel your rights were violated. Put them on notice that you're not going to allow this to happen again. Good law has been developed on the ability of employees to opt out of an objectionable diversity-training program.
Can you pray at work?
Yes, you can absolutely pray at work. There is this general misunderstanding that prayer activity in the public workplace — or even in private companies — is somehow illegal and unauthorized, but that is not the case at all. Prayer is not illegal, unauthorized, inappropriate, nor improper. You can even have Bible studies at work. A lot of companies have staff Bible studies going on. You can't require that employees attend, but they can attend without any problem.
Can a private employer forbid me from posting a passage of Scripture in my personal workspace?
If they do allow personal statements, etc., to be posted in employees' individual workspaces, then they really should not be asking you to take down the Scripture that you've posted in the cubicle where you work. Now, it's a private employer, so they can define what is permissible and what is not. But I will tell you that when you look at a situation like this, generally the problem is that the human resources office thinks they might somehow be creating a hostile work environment by allowing you to keep up a Scripture reference in your workspace area. Here's what you've got to understand: In a private place of employment, they can set the rules on this type of thing. Generally they're supportive, and you can get the situation worked out. But you don't legally have the authority to mandate putting that information up on the company's web site, or up on a bulletin board at the workplace, or even in your private cubicle, as in your case, because they can have their own rules and regulations.
If a person does not want to work on Sundays due to sincerely held religious beliefs, what are his or her rights?
You should not be fired because you can't work on Sunday. They're supposed to make a reasonable accommodation for your sincerely held religious beliefs. You cannot fire somebody because of their faith or religious practice; or if they don't have a faith, you can't fire them for that either. Religious beliefs should not be a factor in someone's job review, and certainly being fired for one's religious beliefs is clearly wrong. The employers would have to show that they couldn't make a reasonable accommodation, where someone would work for her on that particular day. And that's a pretty high burden for them to show. I don't know the nature of the business your daughter worked for, but what we need to do in a situation like this is take a look at all the facts, because these types of cases are very fact specific. However, generally speaking, you shouldn't be terminated because of your sincerely held religious beliefs.
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