Quoting scripture at work

by Evil HR Lady on April 3, 2012

Dear Evil HR lady,

I have a supervisor that constantly recites scripture to me – especially if he feels  our department is in a particularly nasty situation. It is getting very old. I went to our HR director, and her response was “do you want me to say something to him”?

Is that even an appropriate question to ask?

Of course this is an appropriate question to ask. Some people just want to complain but do not want anything really done. They don’t want anything done because that will require confessing (<–gratuitous religious term thrown in for fun) that they have a problem with their supervisor. The supervisor then knows that you don’t like him and that is never pleasant.

Now, what you’re probably thinking is, “This is religious discrimination! It’s illegal and I want it to stop right now. Why else would I have come to you?” Right?

Now, keeping in mind that I am not an attorney, nor do I play on on the internet, but actual scripture quoting isn’t illegal. What is illegal is discriminating against someone on the basis of their religion (or lack thereof). If you’re being treated fairly, and everyone else is being treated fairly, it’s not really more than a minor annoyance, like someone else who likes to quote Beetles tunes or something. The EEOC defines religious discrimination as follows:

It is illegal to harass a person because of his or her religion.

Harassment can include, for example, offensive remarks about a person’s religious beliefs or practices. Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that aren’t very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

It doesn’t say annoying scripture quoting is illegal. The question is, is it so frequent or severe that it’s causing a hostile environment?

So, the HR person is just assessing, “Is this a real problem or not?” If you say, “I don’t want you to do anything,” what you’re saying is, “This is a mild annoyance but it doesn’t rise to the level of discrimination.” If you say, “Yes, I’d like you to say something,” it means, “This is a real problem.”

So, say, “Yes, I would like you to talk to him. In fact, I am nervous about being treated unfairly because I don’t share the same religious beliefs.” And then the HR director will go from there. But if you don’t speak up anything, don’t blame her for not doing anything.

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