Accommodating religious practices in the workplace

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Thus, Title VII may advance the goal of eliminating prejudices and biases in our society. a cartoon entitled `Highway Signs You Should Know´ [that showed] twelve drawings of sexually graphic `road signs' (entitled, for example, `merge,´ `road open,´ etc.)," and so on. depicted both men and women," the court concluded that "widespread verbal and visual sexual humor -- particularly vulgar and degrading jokes and cartoons . 44 The New Jersey Office of Administrative Law likewise found incident of 11 pages worth of jokes being forwarded by e-mail to the whole department to be "sexual harassment" creating an "offensive work environment"; the judge "f[ou]nd the 'jokes' degrade, shame, humiliate, defame and dishonor men and women based upon their gender, sexual preference, religion, skin pigmentation and national and ethnic origin" and were thus illegal. 46 A Seattle Human Rights Department pamphlet gives "the secretary who was frequently told sexual jokes by her co-workers and supervisor" as an example of sexual harassment. sex oriented `kidding´ or `jokes' [and] sexually suggestive objects in the workplace." 48 Employment experts have gotten the message, and are passing it along to employers. and who is posed for the obvious purpose of displaying or drawing attention to private portions of his or her body." This would clearly cover a wide variety of art, and might actually send people to jail -- one form of sanction for violation of a court order -- for possessing and display Gauguin prints. 38 on off-color jokes and cartoons displayed in the workplace. permit, tolerate, or condone the sexual harassment of any employee" (apparently including such humor), and to "evaluate on an annual basis the performance of each department head on the basis of the quality and success of their efforts to implement and enforce the antidiscrimination policies." 39 Another court has found a hostile environment based largely (though not entirely) on "caricatures of naked men and women, animals with human genitalia, . 40 Though "[m]any of the sexual cartoons and jokes . 47 A Hanson, Massachusetts harassment policy for city employees defines sexual harassment as "any unwelcome action, sexual in content or implication, in the workplace that includes . Thus, they recommend, to avoid liability employers should purge workplaces of "blonde jokes" (on the plausible theory that they convey offensive attitudes towards women), 49 discussions of scenes from sex comedies such as "There's Something About Mary" -- "`It's exactly the sort of thing that could create a problem for somebody,´ says Carla Hatcher, a Dallas attorney who handles office sexual harassment cases" 50 -- and Clinton-Lewinsky jokes. Court of Appeals in for instance, upheld a 5,000 damages award based in part on a coworker's playing "misogynistic rap music" and displaying "music videos depict[ing] an array of sexually provocative conduct." 52 The injunction in another case barred the possession or display of any "sexually suggestive, sexually demeaning, or pornographic" 53 materials in the workplace, defining "sexually suggestive" as covering anything that "depicts a person of either sex who is not fully clothed . And I describe below many instances in which harassment complaints were brought based on legitimate art, from Goya to cartoons, but which never came to court because employers, faced with the risk of liability, ordered the art taken down. But a Vietnam era veteran was required to remove a poster considered offensive by members of a non-protected group. However, no action was taken to effect change prior to OFCCP's review. During the most recent military action of Operation Desert Storm, the negative attitude toward Vietnam era veterans became vocal. [This constitutes a v]iolation of 41 CFR 60-250.4(a) [ban on discrimination against veterans] and 41 CFR 60-250.6(a).

There was no allegation that the coworker used any religious slurs, though he did "[make] negative comments to [plaintiff] about her Lutheran faith," did "criticize[] (and tr[y] to change) [plaintiff's] personal life style," and did "depress[] [plaintiff] a great deal" with what plaintiff saw as "Seventh Day Adventism's `pessimistic doomsday´ outlook." Likewise, a federal district court has held that a pattern of religiously themed comments, which mostly consisted of statements that the target was a sinner and had to repent, and didn't include any religious slurs, could be religious harassment. Complaints regarding the offensive postings and verbal harassment were brought to the attention of University Executives. 35 centerfold with the candidate's picture superimposed over the model's head. The trial court concluded that this constituted sexual harassment of the candidate. Consider a Second Circuit case holding that "ten racially-hostile incidents of which [plaintiff] allegedly was aware during his 20-month tenure," of which only four occurred in his presence, were enough to create a potential harassment case. incidents that did not occur in Schwapp's presence," including one "made prior to Schwapp's employment" and "two comments made during Schwapp's employment [but outside his presence] that were hostile toward minority groups of which Schwapp is not a member. Some cases have held that even a single incident of speech -- for instance, one racial slur by a supervisor, or a "single incident of verbal abuse and negative comment concerning Japanese people" -- may be "severe or pervasive." 56 a First Circuit case, affirmed a harassment finding based on three incidents: two personal slurs (one including a threat), plus the words "White Supremacy" spray-painted in a parking lot. "The district court," the Circuit held, "erred in failing to consider the eight . 57 Other cases have granted summary judgment against harassment claims based on single incidents, or even based on several incidents, on the grounds that they weren't "severe or pervasive" enough. 4, § 208 (1997) (barring discrimination against members of national guard); City of Boston Code §§ 12-9.2, 12-9.3 (barring discrimination against past or present military members).

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