A United States military contractor has been caught targeting an employee for reading a Bible.
The worker reportedly kept the Bible on her desk and read it during breaks.
The contractor, which works with the Army and Air Force, is now backing down after being hit by a legal complaint.
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) explains the dispute developed after a new employee, on duty for only a few months, was targeted by the company “for keeping a Bible on her desk and reading aloud from her Bible during break time.”
The ACLJ didn’t identify the contractor or the worker.
The employee sometimes would answer questions from others, the ACLJ’s report said.
According to the legal nonprofit, the employee’s supervisor “told her she must remove her Bible from her desk and would only be allowed to keep it at work in a locker – out of sight of other employees.”
The worker asked for a meeting with the company’s human resources department.
During the meeting, she was informed that “she must remove her Bible from her desk” and also “must cease reading her Bible aloud in the breakroom – even though other employees were permitted to engage in a host of personal activities in the breakroom, including reading books aloud, playing potentially offensive movies and music out loud, using offensive language, and sharing inappropriate jokes and stories with employees,” the ACLJ said.
A few days later, she was “written up” for discussing her faith.
“In the weeks that followed, our client experienced an increase in negative criticism of her work as well as the removal of her desk where she had previously kept her Bible,” the legal team explained.
“Shortly after being written up, our client’s hours of work were also reduced to eliminate her lunch break and break time – an action that has all the hallmarks of retaliation.”
The problem, for the contractor, is that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful for an employer “to discriminate against any individual in regard to his or her terms or conditions or privileges of employment.”
That includes treating workers differently because of their religious beliefs.
The standard is that if any employee is allowed to have personal items on their desk, another employee is allowed to have his or her personal items there.
“Further, an employer cannot prohibit an employee from reading religious material in a break area during personal time, especially where other potentially offensive material is permitted,” the ACLJ said.
“Reprimanding an employee on the basis of their religious activities without a showing of undue hardship constitutes religious discrimination,” the report said.
The ACLJ sent a demand letter to the company.
After receiving the legal letter, the contractor reversed course by announcing it would allow the worker to have and read her Bible.