When Will They Ever Learn?

A friend of mine contacted me and told me that he applied for a job. Part of the application process included filling out a questionaire which asked a number of questions around faith. He was told that he was not being hired for the position due to the fact that they felt he would not be a good fit as he appeared to represent himself as a member of a particular religious faith. The hiring person also told him (via email) flat out that she/he did not like persons of that faith.

WHAT? Are these people out of their minds? This is beyond my understanding because even if the hiring person felt this way, she/he should not have said this out loud, let alone put it in writing.

I am not in a position to offer legal advice, nor am I qualified to do so, however one of the basic tenets of employment law is that you cannot make employment decisions based upon discrimination, which I believe this situation to be. In fact, the DFEH very clearly states the following:

This law provides protection from harassment or discrimination in employment because of:

* Age (40 and over)
* Ancestry
* Color
* Creed
* Denial of Family and Medical Care Leave
* Disability (mental and physical) including HIV and AIDS
* Marital Status
* Medical Condition (cancer and genetic characteristics)
* National Origin
* Race
* Religion
* Sex
* Sexual Orientation

I apologize for the soapbox, but I can’t possibly urge California HR practitioners enough to educate their managers and hiring staff on basic employment laws in California. And also teach them to understand when they’ve said enough.

Now it could be that my friend may not have been a good fit for this position (even though I know him to be a good employee with a good work ethic) and that would have been explanation enough. By elaborating, this employer put his/her agency at risk. And we all know what that can lead to.

2 Replies to “When Will They Ever Learn?”

  1. The ID of a citizen does not and should not hold his or her religion. This is a private matter and should not be present in a person’s ID for others to see which might be a cause of discrimination. In Egypt, the ID of every citizen has his or her religion written in it. Egypt has a Muslim majority and a Christian minority. The interesting thing is that many Egyptian Christians (which are a minority) insist on tattooing a cross on their wrist so that every person that comes in contact with them can see right away that they are Christians. Removing the religion field from the ID of Egyptians is not something Egyptians want. If the Christian minority in Egypt are so keen to show to everyone they meet which faith they belong to, then why remove it from the ID then? It turns out that each region of the world has its own concepts that sometimes are hard to understand be people living in a different region of the world.

  2. He wasn’t by chance applying to a religiously affiliated organization was he? Otherwise, completely agree with your post. He may want to file an EEO complaint.

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