Religious Accommodation

He wasn’t fired, he resigned:

Dan’s and Sam’s interests might well be in conflict if those are the only two workers and one must work Sundays. Which was my interpretation of the OP’s set-up.

Whether either (or both) interests rise to the level of a right and if so, why, is the crux of what all of us, you included, are hacking around at.

What I find odd about this argument is that the history of religious accommodations in this country (in the legal sense) has generally been about either “other” religions or distinct minority Christian sections: the Amish and public schooling; the Quakers and the defense industry; Seventh Day Adventists and the Saturday sabbath; Jewish/Muslim/Sikh headgear; Muslim beards; Santeria and animal sacrifice; indigenous rituals and controlled substances, etc.

It’s no surprise that laws tend not to infringe on the dominant culture, but the idea that majority Christian sects need accommodation is a pretty new development (and yet the allegations in the case invoke many traditional religious accommodation cases).

The issue reminds me of trying to pick a restaurant for a group. If you have one vegan, you’d be a dick not to choose a restaurant that has vegan options. On the other hand, a group of vegans would not necessarily find it necessary to choose a restaurant with meat options to accommodate a loan meat eater; after all, a person that eats meat can still eat a vegan meal.

But what happens, is that the person with the most restrictive requirements gets more control. Likewise, the atheist has no ability to exclude certain job requirements that religious may be able to

I think this has to do is that up until the recent past, the accomodations were baked into the social structure. Growing up in the 80s, the schools had time off for Easter, Christmas and the like, but my father had to submit a form to take my brother and I out of school for the Hebrew High Holy Days. Admittedly, this was a public school in southern NM, and the local Jewish population was tiny.

He -Lost His Shit- with the school, took the form, typed up a response on the back that explained in no uncertain terms how F’d up it was, and said he was taking us out, and would NOT fill out the form, and if they had an issue, he’d be happy to ruin them in court.

They apologized.

But again, for just about forever, the various flavors of Christianity were considered the ‘norm’ for the US, and everything else was ‘other’. If most businesses were closed on Sunday, it was just a given. But as times and desires changed, all of a sudden you needed laws to enforce or protect the status quo (which had White, Christian Males getting default deference) and the challenges were looooong and drawn out.

As I said previously, I have and continue to make sweeping generalizations, and many less mainstream flavors of major religions had moments of triumph and despair, but I think the general sweep is accurate.

I agree with the proposition that the dominant culture didn’t traditionally need accommodation, but I don’t think we’re seeing “laws to enforce” that culture (at least not in this conversation). What we’re seeing is the use of the same laws/principles that have been used to provide accommodation for religious minorities (Christian and non-Christian minorities) are being sought for the benefit of formerly dominant groups. It’s not a sign of “protecting” the status quo, it’s a sign of the loss of influence of those groups in modern society.

Religions are life styles. An employees’ religion is his individual life style choice. If the employee chooses a life style that conflicts with his employers needs’ he must seek employment elsewhere. There’s no absolute involved. The fed cannot recognize one.

Of course he could get a dispensation from his priest or make some accommodation with the employer.

It occurs to me that Dan and Sam, the characters in the OP, are ultimately both asking for an accommodation based on Dan’s religious beliefs, albeit indirectly for Sam. The reason that Sam’s son’s basketball games were all scheduled for Sundays is most likely that Sunday is a day that most people have off of work and school. And the reason why most people have off work and school on Sunday is ultimately because of the religious beliefs of Dan and his co-religionists.

Catholics, unusually (though not uniquely) among Christian sects, don’t claim to be sola scriptura. But I don’t think there are any sects that actually are sola scriptura. And the ones who claim it the loudest tend to have a lot less focus on scripture than Catholics, in my experience, and a lot more focus on the teachings of the pastors of individual congregations.

The commandment “Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy” refers to Saturday, not Sunday. So there’s that.

Holy shit, I did not know this. Do the employers get to claim that money back from the government? Don’t National Guard people get paid by the Guard as well? Are they double-paid?

m de

So let’s make Dan Jewish, and the issue is that Sam’s son has highschool basketball games on Friday night in the Fall. Dan has always been able to make it home before sunset after closing the store, so he didn’t make an issue of his religious requirements when he was hired. Either Sam or Dan needs to stay late to close the store, and Dan has been nice enough to do that during basketball season.

Now the US adopts year-round Daylight Saving Time. That means for several weeks in the Fall if Dan stays late to close the store, he can’t make it home before the Sabbath begins on Friday night. The store asks Sam to close on Fridays those weeks and he refuses because of his son’s games. Dan is equally adamant, citing his sincere religious beliefs.

On paper, their hours have not changed, so there is no contractual issue. How is this resolved?

Good question.

I think employers have a duty to consider reasonable accommodations for their employees, especially either when business situation change from the owner’s perspective or when the employee’s personal situations change.

But what’s “reasonable”? who knows. I think trying to come up with a black and white rule is always going to leave someone feeling put-out.

What I do think is unfair from the get-go is to start with the assumption that a religious accommodation must be considered more seriously than one that stems from a secular
personal position. I don’t believe that religion deserves to be elevated in that way.

For the OP’s example I don’t think there is any fundamental difference in the two requests. Of course that makes the task of deciding between them quite tricky.

Forgive my ignorance, but how does it follow? Everyone would have to agree which day starts the week, and it seems they do not.

Nor does it seem to matter—if someone says his or her religion prescribes a weekly Sabbath on such-and-such a day, one cannot reply with an explanation that, no, we know better and start explaining it to them. When, e.g. the European Court of Justice held up a ban on certain forms of animal slaughter, there was no pretense that it would not cramp the style of Muslims and Jews.

Everything I can find says they are entitled to to unpaid leave from private employers , although that’s of course subject to state laws , court decisions and possibly the details of the situation.

I don’t have personal experience with the national guard, but when i served jury duty:

  1. My employer was required to give me the time without penalty
  2. My employer was not required to pay me for that time
  3. The court offered us minimum wage if we weren’t being paid by an employer
  4. My employer, and the employers of most other jurors i worked with, paid my regular wages for that time, as a corporate policy, not because the law required it.

A clever angle, to take the contractual issue out, but it doesn’t quite work as written: Year-round Daylight Saving Time would mean that Dan gets home with more time to spare before sundown. But you could make the business one with night shifts, with Dan usually coming in to work after sundown on Saturday, until the DST change when it’s now just before sundown.

Damn, I always get that backwards

The bit about time off for military service depends on a bunch of details.

Salaried employees get full salary despite at least short-term military absences, whereas hourly employees are paid only for hours actually worked, which in effect means docked for hours not worked while doing military stuff. But for things like medical or retirement benefits, the time worked at the military counts the same as time worked at the job. Likewise for seniority purposes.

If you leave for 2 years duty in the war, your job must be waiting for you when you come back, and you’ll have been gaining seniority and longevity the whole time.

And no, the employer is not able to get recompense from the government for any of the expenses associated with this.

At every employer I have had, salaried employees burn two weeks of vacation for their two week annual National Guard or Reserve commitment. At my current employer, vacation for salaried is use it or lose it, and everyone gets 3 weeks from year one (first full year). Vacation for hourly workers is more complicated, and they can get paid out for unused vacation. Some of them do take unpaid leave (Leave Without Pay) so that they can still get paid out at year end for “unused” vacation. They are either bad at math or at financial planning.

Hourly employees do miss out on premium Sunday pay on the weekends they have NG duty.

Boot camp is Leave Without Pay for everyone. Health insurance is continued during this time.