Woman fired for eating pork


Interesting. Does a private company have a right to dictate your food habits?

Gotta love this exchange:

So, I guess they can accomodate all faiths in the lunch room, unless it involves pork.

Seriously, can they dictate what an employee eats? I mean, long pig is obviously out, but what if someone wants to eat dog?

It’s not about the employee eating the pork, but about the employee bringing the pork into a clean (halal? Is that the word?) area. In Judaism (and Islam, I’m assuming), pork can contaminate preperation and eating areas, making them unclean.

Sorry, no sympathy. While, as an atheist, I find all religious prohibitions silly, I do respect an employer’s right (obligation, in fact) to provide a clean, non-threatening, and inoffensive workplace. Nonsmoking, perfume-free, no porn calendars, no fish in the microwave – rules like these are common in businesses where some people are bothered by them, and some of them are law. If the majority of people are bothered by a non-essential activity, then the employer has a right to require that employees not engage in that activity on the premises. This woman was not fired for being non-Muslim, or for being a pork-eater – she was fired for engaging in an offensive activity on work premises after she had been warned not to.

Sure, if they want to, they can do it. They can make up any rule they want to as long as it’s not discriminating against those who belong to a protected class (age, sex, race, religion, or national origin) and if people don’t like it, they are free to leave.

I think they’ll have a problem though because they presented this particular rule as relating to a certain religion’s beliefs; thus, a case could be made for their discriminating against people who don’t practice that religion.

If I owned a company and decided that I didn’t want to allow fried peanut-butter sandwiches in the lunchroom - for no special reason; I just don’t like them - I am free to do so as long as I don’t specify that only Catholics or Hispanics or females or people over 40 have to follow the rule but everyone else can do what they like.

IMO, they’re all at fault. The company tried to impose religious strictures on a communal staff area, which I consider immoral, and is probably illegal. And she was really crass and stupid for eating pork in a Muslim-dominated workplace.

This is the comment that really disgusts me from the article.

“It’s just un-American.”

I hate how every time someone doesn’t agree with a certain type of person they become automatically “un-American.” This argument drives me bonkers.

For the record, I think she shouldn’t have eaten meat on premises. It’s just a BLT. If it was something she had to eat for her religion, then maybe she’d have a case.

Come to think of it, are there any foods that specific religions *make * you eat? Not a generalization like kosher, but something like: “Thou shall eat one banana per day.”

Anybody know of any?

:rolleyes: Right…

Ivylass, normally, I agree with your posts. But, as has been said before, while I’m not certain about the specific requirements for hallal certification, I do know that simply bringing traf into a kosher food production facility’s work areas can cause that facility to lose kosher certificaion. While the specific religious ceremonies differ between hallal and kosher, my understanding is that the general practices are very similar. A couple of years ago the Wall Street Journal did an article about the trials of a Rabbi in China inspecting to make sure that various factories there were maintaining the standards for their kosher certification. Simply having pork, or other traf, in a refrigerator that also stores other ingredients can cause a down check.

With that background, I do think it’s quite reasonable for a company producing hallal foods to have a ‘no pork’ policy. And when a worker refuses to be counseled about it, to fire that worker.

And, I for one, found the whole tone of the reporting on that site pretty obnoxious, with a supercilious attitude bordering on insulting towards anyone trying to maintain dietary restrictions for religious reasons. Jews and Muslims both react very strongly to finding they’ve eaten unclean foods - it can be a real problem. Whether one shares their beliefs or not, mocking the responsibility of a company producing hallal products to maintain the workplace free of anything that might damage the certification is what I would call ‘unAmerican.’

This is a telecommunications company, not a food supplier, so I’m not sure that merely bringing in a BLT sandwich violates any “hallal” rules. (New word for me.)

My question is, can Muslims not even be in the same room as pork? If I take a Muslim friend out to dinner, can I eat pepperoni even though she can’t?

I thought they might be violating the employee’s own religious freedoms. Muslims have a ban on pork, and I respect that, but I don’t think they can force that belief on non-Muslims.

Now, I agree that an employer can ban any food for any reason, but when they couch it in “religious reasons,”, then I think you run the risk of stepping on other’s beliefs.

Exactly - it’s going to come down to why they fired her: was it because she was eating pork (an unclean and offensive food to Muslims, and is a lawyer going to cast that as the company’s giving preferential to certain employees’ food choices based on their belonging to the company’s preferred religion) or was it because she had violated a long-standing and widely known company policy not once but TWICE? After being told after the first offense not to do it again?

Whoops, my bad. :wally

It depends. And, again, here I’m going on the analogy for kosher, since I’m not as familiar with hallal rules. YMMV. :slight_smile:

If there is a chance that traf could touch a utensil, sometimes even the same stove or oven, the food prepared in that kitchen can’t be considered kosher. My grandmother was a reform Jew, and as such was not as worried about eating kosher when we went out, but even so she prefered resturants that would serve kosher. AIUI, you can’t serve kosher foods if pork or other traf is being prepared in the same kitchen. I seem to recall that the way some resturants would get around that is to have a seperate kitchen for kosher meals.

I may be wrong, but this is my understanding of how the rules work, and, like I said, hallal is pretty transparent w/respect to kosher, except for the religious rituals involved.

My stepfather works for Coca Cola Enterprises and he, along with everyone else in his plant, is banned from bringing in food from KFC, Taco Bell, or Pizza Hut since all three serve PepsiCo products. I’m not sure if it is something that could result in a termination but it’s taken very seriously. I’m sure numerous food establisments have the same rules.

Why can’t this company have similar rules? I would think religious reasons would be a better basis for it than simple competition.

If it was a company involved in the production of halal and/or kosher food, or Islamic products (kofis, prayer rugs, etc) the company would certainly have the legal right to fire employees for eating pork. But, the article says that it’s a telecommunications company.

The article says that the woman was warned at least once before being fired. But, the company does not have a written no pork policy.

However, I know of no Christian sect which requires the eating of pork. She has not been prevented from practicing her religion. If she’d been fired for wearing a cross, or saint medal, etc then she’d have a case. She doesn’t say she was required to make any concession to Islam other than not eating pork at work. If she was a member of the Maring or Tsembaga or other pig-loving tribe, then she would have a valid claim that she was being prevented from practicing her religion.
In summary, she was asked not to do something which other workers and clients might find offensive. She did it anyway. She was fired. I don’t really see the problem.

OK, here’s a question I’d like a serious answer to: could she be fired for eating pork at home, then taking a crap in the company ladies’ room?

An example: My father had been a corpsman for the Navy in the late 50’s, and tells of when he was called to treat a Jewish Marine who’d had a bad reaction to finding out the ‘chops’ he’d had were pork chops. The Marine in question, once his tent mates made it clear he had eaten pork, vomited, spontaneously, and passed out. And this was a man who’d volonteered to eat non-kosher.

To put things into perspective for a gentile: consider how you’d feel seeing someone having a shit sandwich.


I don’t think so. Why do you ask?

She would be bringing in and depositing pork in a part of the workplace other people had to use.

I think she was probably wondering just how far you can take this whole “contimination of a kosher workplace.” I mean, if you can’t bring a sandwich from home and eat it on-site (which is what I assume happened, I can’t get the link to work) without contaminating the place because of crumbs, what about coming in and crapping pork into the toilets? Would that be considered contamination?

AIUI, it’s not whether other people have to use the same facilities, but whether other foods could use the same facilities. If you’re going toilet diving for lunch, then I guess that would matter. Otherwise, I don’t see where it would affect anything.

OTOH, how would you feel watching someone eat a shit sandwich in the same cafeteria you were eating in? Even if you didn’t have to worry about contamination?

I don’t think I’m making the connection here.

She did not bring in pork chops to share, trick everyone to think they are veal, then sit back and laugh evilly.

She brought in lunch or ordered a pizza. She did not offer to share with anyone.

The employer admits there was no written rule, and that she was fired because she violated *their[i/] religious beliefs, even though she does not suscribe to them herself.

Unless they want to violate more discrimation laws and refuse to hire non-Muslims, I don’t see how she did anything illegal.

Now, one more question. Usually, when you take a lunch, you are off the clock. Was she then fired for something she was doing on her own time, and does that violate any laws?

BTW, Eve, I am constantly amazed at how your mind works. I think I’m a littl afraid of you. :wink: