Two Fired for Not Praying at Work, File ‘Hostile Work Environment’ Lawsuit
Two people in North Carolina have been fired from their jobs because they wouldn't participate in daily prayers.
In a recent video Tweet, the owner of the business is seen telling employees that if they didn't want to participate in prayers, they could leave.
Reaction online is, as one would guess, mixed.
Yes, a lawsuit had been filed.
According to the Washington Post, John McGaha and Mackenzie Saunders claim that they were fired because they would not participate in "daily company prayer sessions".
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the two employees by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accusing the employer of creating a hostile work environment by not accommodating the religious beliefs of the fired employees.
“If you do not participate, that is okay, you don’t have to work here. You are getting paid to be here.” via WaPo
What are the religious beliefs of the fired employees? At least one, according to WaPo, is an atheist. John McGaha asked the boss if he could skip the prayer meetings since he is an atheist. The reply McGaha received wasn't what he wanted to hear: “If you do not participate, that is okay, you don’t have to work here. You are getting paid to be here.”
Shortly after that conversation, McGaha claims he received an email stating that his weekly pay was being reduced by 50%.
Not long after that, according to the Washington Post, McGaha was fired.
In the WaPo article, McGaha claims that, at first, the prayer meetings lasted around 20 minutes. As time went on, those prayer meetings began to last longer, as long as 45 minutes.
So, who is in the right here? Many on social media believe that, since it's a privately-owned company, the business owner can fire whomever he wants.
One Twitter user compares this situation to that of someone employed at a church facility.
The term "private business" gets brought up a lot.
Some are even predicting that the courts would be on the side of the business owner, stating that private companies can do what they want.
Do we know which "law" prevents employers from discriminating based on religious beliefs?
Actually, we do. It's Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission:
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals because of their religion (or lack of religious belief) in hiring, firing, or any other terms and conditions of employment. - EEOC
There it is, in black and white: no religious discrimination allowed.
Even other Christians find the boss's demands to be too much.
And, of course, some compare the business owner's actions to those of the Taliban.
Just for the record: the business owner claims to be a Christian in his LinkedIn profile.
According to the owner's "About" section on LinkedIn, the purpose of his company is, in part:
To Plant God's Seed through the Daily Reading of the Holy Gospel to every team member that is open to listening. via LinkedIn
If you notice, he says "...to every team member that is open to listening", but he doesn't say what happens to any team member who isn't open to listening.
Many of the people commenting on the story are playing armchair lawyer and, since I am not a lawyer, I have no idea if they are correct in their statements.
So if the handbook says you must pray, must you?
Some people were very bothered by the story, and it's easy to understand why.
Chilling words, indeed. What happened to religious liberty? It's the business owner's right to say prayers, but is it his right to demand it of his employees?
And any mention of forced religion usually brings up a reference to the Taliban.
Here's another one that believes that, unless the employee agreed to attend the prayer services, the business owner is in hot water.
What are your thoughts on the subject? Would your thoughts be the same if the business owner were to force employees to read from the Qu'ran (Koran) or any religious text other than the Christian Bible?
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